Lord Charles Cornwallis's March Down the Cape Fear River
Contributed by Kenneth R. Haynes, Jr. of Reidsville, North Carolina
Posted July 13, 2006 by Myrtle Bridges

	The march of the British field army under Lord Charles Cornwallis down the Cape Fear River valley in 
the closing days of March and early April, 1781 is usually treated as a mere afterthought in historical 
treatises of the North Carolina Campaign of 1781 - euphemistically called the "Race to the Dan."  Very 
little is known about the British retreat through central North Carolina after the climactic and 
disastrous Battle of Guilford Courthouse on 15 March, 1781.  The British general's stubborn fixation 
on the destruction of Major General Nathanael Greene's Southern Field Army at any cost was an abject 
failure.  Lord Cornwallis found himself in a most difficult position.  He was in the middle of a 
wilderness that had been bled white by the depravations of the two armies and numerous independent 
guerrilla corps.  His field army could no longer continue the strategic offensive against the rebel 
American army, and was ragged and close to starvation with numerous wounded encumbering his speed of 

	After the big battle in central Guilford County, Lord Cornwallis moved almost due south, feinting 
towards Cheraw Hills and his principal post at Camden, South Carolina, or even Cross Creek (modern 
Fayetteville, N.C.).  He made a brief stop at Bell's Mill (essentially Randolph County Courthouse) 
on Deep River, then cut cross country across Greene's intended line-of-march by moving his ragged 
army northeast towards Hillsborough in the heartland and Halifax on the Roanoke River.  This strange 
maneuver might be seen as a ploy that would enable Cornwallis to open communications with the British 
garrison at Portsmouth, Virginia, under Major General William Phillips.  The ruse did not work as 
Cornwallis intended because Greene was held up near South Buffalo Creek, southeast of Guilford Courthouse, 
awaiting vital ammunition stores and draught horses.  He couldn't move anywhere while Cornwallis was 
calmly marching across his front. The British encamped at Dixon's Mill on Cane Creek, then at Colonel 
John Pyle's Plantation, both in southern Alamance County.  A wonderful opportunity to bring the weakened 
British army to battle was thus lost. 

	On 25 March, Cornwallis suddenly abandoned his sly maneuvering and at last swung his army towards 
what must have been his original goals, Cross Creek and Wilmington, that both lay on the Cape Fear River.  
The next day Colonel John Ramsey's Mill and Ford on Deep River were reached (near the village of Moncure).  
Unfortunately, the river rose and the British army was caught in a very bad tactical situation.  They 
were on low ground with their back against a high flowing river that they could not cross.  The British 
managed to apprehend three militiamen as they took up their position, but American partisans, hot on 
the trail of the British, returned the favor and attacked Cornwallis's Jäger rifle corps encampment 
and carried off three Hessian riflemen late that afternoon.  It is not clear if these partisans belonged 
to Lieut Colonel Henry Lee's Corps or that of the Marquis de Malmedy.  Banastre Tarleton, in his History 
of the Southern Campaigns, may have employed a little dramatic license when he hinted that Cornwallis was 
on the verge of being forced to surrender.  Greene's army did not actually arrive until after the British 
left on the morning of the 28th.  Nevertheless, the rising of the Deep River didn't deter Cornwallis.  
Some sort of extemporaneous bridge was constructed in the space of one day's time on the 27th that enabled 
the British to safely cross the Deep River on the morning of the 28th of March.  One wonders how this 
bridge was constructed in so short a time!  It was partially dismantled after the crossing, but Lee's 
partisans managed to repair it and took up the pursuit for a short distance before falling back to the 
river.  The British were in such a hurry that several wounded men who had died were left unburied.  
Major de Malmedy's Corps, however, swarmed around the British and would plague them for several days. 

	On Wednesday, 28 March, the British crossed Deep River and marched 17 miles to the Upper Little River, 
according to the Scottish and von Bose Regimental Journal.  Local historians say the camp was on the land 
of William Buie.  Essentially, the route probably passed through the communities of Rosser and Broadway 
in Lee County, and Seminole in Harnett, thence south on modern McArthur Road to Buie's Plantation near 
the junction with Mt Pisgah Church Road. 

	There is an enduring legend that the British camped at Barbeque Presbyterian Church on Barbeque Creek, 
five miles to the south.  The journals prove this incorrect, as are many legends, but it is possible that 
Lee's 2nd Partisan Corps reached this position before turning north, giving up the pursuit.  But the more 
likely candidate as the source of the Barbeque Creek legend is Major François Lellorquis, the Marquis 
de Malmedy, who led a rather undisciplined regiment of some 700 bushwhackers and plunderers from Chatham and 
Granville Counties.  Colonels John Luttrell and John Taylor were battalion COs.  Three weeks earlier, 
while stationed at Woody's Ferry on Haw River, Malmedy had received orders to suppress Tories between 
the Deep and Haw Rivers, and to disrupt supply routes.  Should the British retreat through Randolph and 
Chatham Counties, this mounted regiment was to hang on the enemy's rear and attack their baggage train 
or small foraging parties, if there was a probability of success.  On 10 March, Major de Malmedy received 
orders to move to the Rocky River area "to prevent the Loyalists in that area from sending provisions to 
the British."  Mobile raiding parties fanned out over southern Guilford and Alamance, and Randolph and 
Chatham Counties with the additional missions of keeping parties close to the British army and removing 
the stores at Colonel Ramsey's Mill on Deep River to the east across the Haw River.  It is possible that 
de Malmedy's partisans got over the Deep River before it rose and took a blocking position on the south 
bank of the river at Ramsey's Ford.  As Cornwallis withdrew down the west bank of the Cape Fear River, 
it was possible that the Marquis de Malmedy's numerous companies rendezvoused to the south of the Upper 
Little River, perhaps on Barbeque Creek, before moving down to Cross Creek. 

	On Thursday, 29 March, the British army marched 18 miles to Lower Little River, probably encamping 
at Archibald McNeill's Plantation on the south side of the river on modern McCormick Road.  From Buie's 
Plantation on Upper Little River, Cornwallis most likely followed McArthur and Leaflet Church Roads along 
the northern bank of the river, thence southwest over the river and down Nursery Road to the junction 
with Ray Road.  Ray Road was followed to the southeast across Lower Little River to a junction with 
McCormick Road.  Here camp was made.  The von Bose Journal says "Niel's Plantation."  The Scottish 
Journal is probably closer with the spelling of the gentleman's name with the entry, "Lower Little 
River - Mackneil's Plantation… 18 miles."  

	On Friday, 30 March, Cornwallis marched almost due south on what must have been essentially McCormick 
Road and Ramsey Street to the campsite in downtown Fayetteville, between Blount and Cross Creeks.  The 
journals give the distance marched as 12 miles.  The politically divided village of Cross Creek was 
thus occupied. 

	What has never been disclosed in standard histories is that Lord Cornwallis's army had a brief 
confrontation with a sizable American force at Cross Creek this Friday afternoon. Elements of Colonel 
James Emmet's Cumberland County militia may have been present, removing public stores, but most of 
the county's militia would have been scattered about the countryside, unable to rendezvous at Cross 
Creek on such short notice.  Undoubtedly, most of this large rebel force must have been the Marquis 
de Malmedy's Partisan Corps that had ridden into Cross Creek ahead of the British.  The von Bose 
Journal states that their red-coated army marched "to Cross Creek, 12 miles, where 500 rebels had 
taken up their position, but who withdrew on our approach, having partly burnt their stores and 
partly carried them off.  The remaining store of provisions was collected together and distributed 
amongst the troops."  Malmedy's partisans undoubtedly carried off much more than public stores, as 
the private property of Cross Creek's sizeable Loyalist population would have been prime pickings. 

	The next day, a Saturday, was spent foraging.  At least one skirmish is said to have occurred 
at Stewart's Creek on modern Morganton Road, with three or four casualties on each side.  The wounded 
Brig General Charles O'Hara is said to have been personally involved in leading the foraging party to 
Stewart's Creek and firing a musket several times, according to the legend.  This is highly unlikely, 
as brigadier generals did not lead small foraging parties.  His heroic action is not mentioned in a 
letter that he wrote a couple of weeks later to the Duke of Grafton.  In fact, O'Hara wrote that the 
Americans didn't fire a shot during the entire retreat to Wilmington.  This may have been an exaggeration, 
as it is hard to believe Major de Malmedy's troops would not have attempted to cut off and capture 
British foragers.  Some shots may have been exchanged, but were at such a distance that the good 
general could not hear them. 

	The foraging expeditions around Cross Creek bore little fruit.  Cornwallis wrote a few days latter 
that there was "but little provision & no forage; the army was barefooted & there is the utmost want 
of necessaries of every kind; and I was embarrassed with about 400 sick & wounded.  These considerations 
made me determined to march down to Wilmington." Ever since Major James Craig occupied Wilmington in 
late January, Cornwallis had hoped and expected to open communications with Major Craig via the Cape 
Fear.  But on his arrival at Cross Creek, Cornwallis discovered what Major Craig had learned many weeks 
before; the Cape Fear was a death trap for any boat and crew trying to navigate upstream with messages 
and supplies for the British field army far away in the upcountry.  The narrow river with its high 
wooded banks offered ideal protection for rebel snipers. 

	Banastre Tarleton's Campaigns is critical at this point of Cornwallis's decision to carry on a 
campaign deep into the heart of such a rebellious province as North Carolina without the knowledge 
or ability to open lines-of-communication with friendly forces.  With the British isolated at Cross 
Creek, and Wilmington a ninety mile march away, Tarleton, at least in hindsight, criticized his 
commander once again for making the march to Wilmington instead of taking an overland route to Camden, 
some 120 miles away, thereby reinforcing Lord Rawdon's small garrison.  Although Tarleton was certainly 
strategically correct, Lord Cornwallis was concerned about the short-term welfare of his army of 
"walking wounded" soldiery.  His Lordship must have reasoned that a southwestward march into South 
Carolina over dozens of swampy rivers and branches would have brought only more misery to his sickly,
 barefooted, and starving army.  Such a march could have easily added a couple hundred men to the 
casualty lists, lost by sickness or desertion.  Humanitarian considerations won out over strategic ones.  

	On Sunday 1 April, after a one day's layover at Cross Creek, Lord Cornwallis commenced the second 
phase of his march towards Wilmington.  Both journals indicate that a "Gray's Mill" was the campsite 
that was reached that afternoon.  The most likely location of Gray's Mill was on Gray's Creek, where 
Pate's Mill was in 1888, just west of where Hwy 87 crosses the creek.  It would seem obvious that 
the British would march the seven miles almost due south to Gray's Mill and camp; but we run into 
a problem because both journals state that 17 miles were covered that Sunday, not seven. 

	Cornwallis must have flared off the "Wilmington Road" in a zigzag fashion.  But why do this?  The 
answer may lie in the threat that was posed by Major de Malmedy's Partisan Corps to the rear and flank 
of the bedraggled redcoat army.  Another Lexington-Concord running skirmish down the Wilmington Road 
was not to be desired.  It is possible that Cornwallis made a feint southwest down the "Great Marsh 
Road" (essentially Parkton Road, Leeper Road to Parkton, Shaw Road across Big Marsh) as if he intended 
a march to Camden, before turning east-southeast and picking up the Wilmington Road at Gray's Mill.  
Major Lellorquis' dispersed force may have been caught off guard and didn't have time to concentrate 
on the "Great Marsh Road."  Once they did, Cornwallis turned back eastward towards Gray's Mill and 
the Cape Fear River, leaving the large rebel force in his wake.  If General O'Hara's account is to 
be trusted, the Americans posed no further threat to the British column the rest of the journey.  
Perhaps they were having as much trouble sustaining themselves in these woodlands as the British.  
Another reason for de Malmedy's failure to pursue the British is an order from General Greene's 
headquarters about this time.  It ordered the Partisan Corps to join Alexander Lillington's militia 
on the Northeast Cape Fear.  If the marquis followed Cornwallis's route, it may have been for just a 
short distance, before turning back and camping on the Cape Fear at William Sprouls' Ferry (near 
Harnett County Airport, south of the town of Buies Creek) on or about 2 April.  Colonel James Emmet's 
Cumberland militia was camped several miles to the south at Stewart's Creek near Avery's Plantation.  
Presumably, this would have been on the east side of the Cape Fear near Avery's Ferry (essentially just 
south of Averasboro).  Here, both commanders received news that Cornwallis had left Cross Creek the 
previous day on a road that led to Rockfish Creek.  Colonel Emmet wrote General Greene that he intended 
to march to Cross Creek, having consolidated his force at Avery's.  If the militia did march south into 
Cross Creek, they probably did not remain long, and would have crossed the Cape Fear to the east bank as 
soon as possible or dispersed to their homes. 

	A route that works fairly well for the British army's 17 miles march to Gray's Mill would have 
followed Southern Avenue and Legion Road southwest out of Fayetteville to Hope Mills.  As mentioned 
above, it may have been called "Great Marsh Road" in Colonial times, and generally ran towards 
Lumberton.  At Hope Mills, Hwy 59 was briefly picked up to Rockfish Creek, south of town.  Then Parkton 
Road was followed south-southwest to McDonald Road (SR 1121), which was then followed southeast to Roslin.  
Braxton Road (SR 2242) was followed east, as was Sandhill Road (SR 2238) to Hwy 87 and Gray's Mill.  
The British may have camped just to the south of Gray's Creek and the mill.

	On Monday, 2 April, Lord Cornwallis moved down the Wilmington Road (Hwy 87) to the junction with 
Hwy 131, just past the community of Tar Heel.  The British diverted off the principal route they were 
following and marched along Hwy 131 about three miles south into what was called "Cain's Neck," between 
Goodman's Swamp and Black Swamp.  Here the British camped on the lands of Samuel and Joseph Cain.  Both 
journals indicate a march of 16 miles. 

	It was on this Monday that the highly popular Colonel James Webster, commander of the 33rd Regiment 
of Foot, died of his wounds inflicted at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse two weeks earlier.  He was 
41 years old.  Three weeks later Lord Cornwallis wrote the following somber yet tender letter to the 
Reverend Doctor Alexander Webster concerning the death of his second son:

Wilmington, April 23, 1781

	It gives me great concern to undertake a task, which is not only a bitter renewal of my own grief, but
must be a violent shock to an affectionate parent.

	ou have for your support the assistance of religion, good sense, and an experience of the uncertainty 
of all human enjoyment.  You have for your satisfaction, that your son fell nobly in the cause of his 
country, honoured and lamented by his fellow-soldiers; that he led a life of honor and virtue, which 
must secure to him everlasting happiness.  When the keen sensibility of the passions begins a little 
to subside, these considerations will afford you real comfort.

	That the Almighty may give you fortitude to bear this severest of trials, is the earnest wish of your 
companion in affliction, and Most faithful servant, CORNWALLIS 

	The next day, Tuesday, 3 April, the army marched 14 miles to Brown's Creek, some two miles south 
of Elizabethtown on Cape Fear River.  The army followed Hwy 131 over Bear Ford Swamp, and then Hwy 41 
as it curved eastward back to Hwy 87 leading to Elizabethtown.  Logistics may have been the reason 
for taking this "bypass" route via Cain's Plantation.  Somewhere between Brown's Creek and Elizabethtown 
was interred the body of the gallant Colonel Webster. In his history of the campaign, published in 1856, 
the Reverend Eli Caruthers wrote that such had been the disinterest, that Colonel Webster's grave had 
not been marked by even a crude fieldstone. Dr. Caruthers would relate that:

	A few years ago some gentlemen in the neighborhood, undertook to find the place, and ascertain in 
what condition were his remains.  For this purpose they took with them an old negro, who, it was supposed, 
might serve as a guide; and on reaching the grave, after looking round a few moments, he pointed out the 
precise spot.  One of the gentlemen stuck the point of his cane in the ground, and, discovering that it 
readily gave way, order a servant to take a spade and cautiously remove the earth.  He did so, and it 
was discovered to be a grave.  They continued the operation, and soon came on what appeared to be the 
body of a soldier.  It seemed to be perfect, and the ornament on the cap was entire. All gazed in mute 
silence on the spectacle, and were surprised to see how little change had been made in half a century; 
but the illusion was soon at an end; for the corpse at first so life-like in appearance, on being 
exposed to the atmosphere, soon crumbled into dust.  They filled up the grave again, and retired with 
a feeling of regret that they had disturbed the ashes of the dead. 

	We know the British camped just south of Elizabethtown on Tuesday, 3 April, because of a letter 
Cornwallis wrote to Major Craig dated "Camp, one mile below Elizabeth Town, 3 April."  The Scottish 
Journal does not give a campsite for the 3rd, stating only that 14 miles were marched.  The von Bose 
Journal says "through Newtown, no name to camp … 14 miles."  "NEWTOWN" is clearly Elizabethtown! 

	Both journals have entries for the 4th of April that are puzzling and seem to indicate that the 
army marched to and past Elizabethtown all over again.  The von Bose Journal states "2 miles the other 
side of Elizabethtown … 16 miles."  The Scottish Journal states that on the 4th of April, "Two miles 
beyond Elizabeth Town … 16 miles."  The entries are certainly technically incorrect because the army 
had already passed through Elizabethtown the previous day - the THIRD OF APRIL!  To make any sense of 
these entries, perhaps they should read, "April 4 - From camp two miles below Elizabeth Town, marched 
16 miles to campsite on unknown creek."  This unknown creek was undoubtedly Carver's Creek.

	The march on Wednesday, 4 April, was a straight march down the Wilmington Road (Hwy 87) to Carver's 
Creek Friends Meeting House (established in 1746), a notable site close to where the British encamped 
after a 16 mile march.  On Thursday, 5 April, Hwy 87 was followed once again to a camp at "Alston's 
Plantation" which apparently was on Livingston's Creek.  The Scottish Journal gives 13 miles as the 
distance marched, while the von Bose Journal gives 12 miles.  Friday, 6 April, was a day of rest.  
We know Alston's Plantation was near Livingston's Creek because Cornwallis dated a letter to Lieut 
Colonel Nisbet Balfour from "Camp on Cape Fear River, 16 miles from Wilmington, April 5th, 1781."  

	On Saturday, 7 April, the British marched down the Cape Fear and "encamped at Macleans Bluff … 
14 miles," according to the Scottish Journal.  The von Bose Journal gives the same distance, but 
spells the campsite as "Machaine's Bluff on the Cape Fear River … 14 miles."  This site, overlooking 
what must have been Northwest Cape Fear River, was probably about where the community of Navassa is 
today, near the Seaboard Railroad Bridge over the river.  Alfred M. Waddell's book, History of New 
Hanover County, has a map entitled "Plantations of the Lower Cape Fear, 1725-1760" that shows a 
"Gabourel's Bluff" at the same location of "Maclean's Bluff."  The correct spelling of this final 
Wilmington Road campsite was Maclaine's Bluff Plantation, named for one Archibald Maclaine, who 
apparently purchased the land from Captain Joshua Gabourel, who came to the Cape Fear region from 
the Isle of Jersey before 1734.  

	The route from the Livingston's Creek campsite followed Old N.C. Hwy 87, Northwest Road, Mt
 Misery Road, Dogwood Road, and Old Bluff Road to Maclaine's Bluff Plantation.

	Most histories claim that Wilmington was reached this 7th day of April, but this is not true.  
The Scottish Journal unfortunately falls silent except for a brief and fragmentary mention of a 
four-mile march to Wilmington, with no date given.  But the von Bose Journal gives some interesting 
detail.  It states that on the 8th, 9th, and 10th of April the army remained in its Maclaine's Bluff 
Plantation camp, but that on the 9th the severely wounded were rowed down the river to Wilmington in 
order to be sent to Charlestown by transport.  These men were Lieutenant von Trott, two sergeants, 
two drummers, and eleven wounded enlisted men.  They were accompanied by one captain d'armes, one 
army surgeon, and four overseers, all of the von Bose Infantry Regiment.  Lieutenant von Trott died 
soon after reaching the haven of Wilmington, on 10 April.  On Tuesday, 10 April, the slightly wounded 
and invalids were also rowed to the Wilmington hospital.  

	The field army remained at Maclaine's Bluff Plantation for several days, being transported across 
the Northwest and Northeast Cape Fear Rivers in three stages on the 11th, 12th, and 13th of April.  
The von Bose "marched into camp a mile from Wilmington."  The Cape Fear is mentioned as being "twice 
crossed" and the total distance marched was two miles.  So the 13th of April is the official date on 
which the last of Cornwallis's Southern Field Army arrived in Wilmington, not the 7th of April.  Of 
course, Cornwallis himself may have been rowed to Wilmington, but it is unlikely he would have abandoned 
his army for the comforts of city life.  That would not have been good for morale.  Flat boats (or ferry 
barges), the normal ferries that plied the wide waters, several hundred yards across, and perhaps ship's 
boats, were utilized for the crossings.  Some may have had sails.  Most, if not all, used oars in order 
to cross such wide bodies of water. 

	Once in town our journalist reported meeting Major Creek with the 82nd Regiment that had been 
garrisoning the town since the end of January, and which was in possession of five redoubts.  "Some 
row-galleys and provision ships were moored in the Cape Fear River not far from town.  The great 
transports etc., however, on account of the shallowness of the water, lay 16 miles further down the 
river, and most requirements and necessities had to be brought up to the town in sloops." The von Bose 
Regiment happily received a supply of 150 pairs of shoes that had been transported from Charlestown on 
board the transport ship Lucretia.  Four non-coms and privates were a small but welcomed reinforcement. 

	For the next ten days, from 14 April to 24 April, the threadbare soldiers were "supplied with all 
necessaries in the way of uniforms and clothing.  The Hessian journal says only the English were provided 
uniforms, but then he goes on to state that "Also as every soldier was destitute of trouser, linen was 
given out to enable long breeches to be made therefrom for those about to march."  The regiment gave over 
their old muskets for use by any militia that flocked to the standard in exchange for new English "rifles" 
(undoubtedly smoothbore muskets) supplied by the Royal Inspector-General's stores. 

	The British army had long ago worn out their "invasion shoes" and had been forced to make their own 
substitute footwear out of cowhide.  They, in turn, had worn out and the army that was ferried over both 
forks of the Cape Fear was barefooted and in rags.  This is not the typical picture of a British army 
that one sees in the movies or in books on uniforms.  Two new pairs of shoes were issued each soldier, 
the first pair was a gift, but the second pair was to be paid by stoppages from the soldier's pay. 

	The North Carolina Campaign of 1781 was truly a disaster for the British cause in the Southern 
Theater.  On analyzing official field returns for the period between the first of January and 15 April, 
when Cornwallis's army was safely ensconced in Wilmington, the loss of manpower of Cornwallis's Field 
Army and Banastre Tarleton's special task force becomes staggeringly apparent.  On 1 January, with Lord 
Cornwallis planning his invasion of North Carolina, and Lieut Colonel Tarleton actively campaigning 
against Brig General Daniel Morgan's American Brigade, the combined totals of the two divisions of 
Cornwallis's Grand Army totaled 3,168 rank and file - present, fit for duty.  This excludes a separate 
category of those serving in the Royal Artillery, the Jäger Rifle Corps, and the Guides & Pioneers.  
This category remains fairly steady over the next few months.   The total obviously excludes those 
who are sick and wounded, and those "absent on command and recruiting - both within and outside the 
district."  By mid-April, Lord Cornwallis's Field Army was down to 1,655 rank and file - present, fit 
for duty. "Rank and file" is a term that means privates and corporals.  So, we have not included in 
the above figures field and staff officers, musicians, and non-commissioned officers in order to keep 
the calculations simple.  Lord Cornwallis and Banastre Tarleton were responsible for the loss of 1,513 
rank and file in a three and a half months' period - 47.75 % of the army! 

	The march down the Cape Fear was a depressing experience for officer and soldier alike.  The North 
Carolina Campaign of 1781 had been a total failure, with nothing being accomplished.  The enemy's field 
army had not been crushed and eliminated; in fact, it was even stronger.  Royal government and a large 
standing Loyalist army had not been established.  Almost half the operational field forces had been lost.  
The war chest was drained empty.  Survivors of the debacle were barefoot and in rags.  Equipment needed 
repair or replacement. Morale was rock bottom with the enemy growing in strength, and even now invading 
South Carolina.

	Lieut General Lord Charles Cornwallis would come to the rash decision in Wilmington to abandon the 
Carolinas and move into Virginia, seeking the decisive victory that would never come.  He would chase 
Generals Lafayette and Wayne all over central Virginia in more marches that only further wore out men 
and equipment.  For a fraction of the British army, namely the von Bose Regiment, the Jäger rifle corps, 
and the Brigade of Guards, the combined Campaigns in the Carolinas and Virginia yielded one of the 
longest marches in Western Civilization, some 1,486 miles according to the von Bose regimental journal.  
But nothing would be accomplished in Virginia either; and Lord Cornwallis would next move his army to a 
dreary little river town on the York River.  At Yorktown the war would take a most unexpected and decisive 
turn.  The Americans were learning how to manage a war!

	Editorial Note: Anyone wishing to contact me with criticisms, corrections, or additional information 
can contact me at the e-mail address given on the Title Page.
Fourth of July, 2006


1.	Journal of an Anonymous Scottish Officer (hereafter, Scottish Journal), Scottish Record Office, 
GD 26/9/521.  General Greene had been concerned that Cornwallis might move against Halifax while 
Cornwallis was moving towards Hillsborough, just about the time the American Army was re-crossing 
the Dan River. At this point in the campaign, Greene was not as concerned [see "General Nathanael 
Greene to Colonel Alexander Martin, February 23, 1781," The Papers of Nathanael Greene, p. 335].

2.	Journal of the Honourable Hessian Infantry Regiment von Bose: From its March out to America in 
the year 1776 to its return March into the Garrison at Hofgeismar in the year 1783 (English 
Translation - hereafter, von Bose Journal), p. 53, Morristown National Military Park, Morristown, 
NJ; Banastre Tarleton, History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of 
North America (Dublin, 1787), pp. 279-280;  "General Nathanael Greene to Colonel Stephen Drayton, 
HQ at Col Ramsays on Deep River, March 28, 1781," Denis M. Conrad (Ed), The Papers of General 
Nathanael Greene, Vol. VII (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1994), p. 475.

3.	Scottish Journal; von Bose Journal, p. 53; Daniel W. Barefoot, Touring North Carolina's 
Revolutionary War Sites (Winston-Salem, N.C., 1998), p. 136.

4.	Barefoot, p. 136;  "Marquis de Malmedy to Major Ichabod Burnet, near Woodys Ford, N.C., 
6 March, 1781," Greene Papers, Vol. VII, p. 406;  "Captain Nathaniel Pendleton to Marquis de Malmedy, 
HQs on the North Side of Haw River, N.C., 8 March, 1781," GreenePapers, Vol. VII, p. 410;  
"Marquis de Malmedy to Captain Nathaniel Pendleton, Haw Creek, N.C., 10 March, 1781," Greene 
Papers, Vol. VII, p. 421;  "Major Ichabod Burnet to Marquis de Malmedy, HighRock Ford, N.C., 10 March, 
1781," Greene Papers, Vol. VII, p. 422;  "Marquis de Malmedy to General Nathanael Greene, Haw Creek, 
N.C., 10 March, 1781,  Greene Papers, Vol. VII, pp. 425-425;  "Marquis de Malmedy to General Nathanael 
Greene, Woodys Ferry, N.C., 11 March, 1781,  Greene Papers, Vol. VII, p. 428;  "General Nathanael 
Greene to Marquis de Malmedy, Camp near the Iron Works, N.C., 18 March, 1781,"  Greene Papers, Vol.
VII, pp. 447-448.

5.	Scottish Journal; von Bose Journal, p. 53.

6.	Ibid.

7.	Von Bose Journal, p. 53.

8.	Patrick O'Kelley, "Nothing But Blood and Slaughter": The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas, 
Vol. III (1781), pp. 164-166.

9.	"Lord Charles Cornwallis to Lieut Colonel Nisbet Balfour, camp on Cape Fear River, 16 miles 
from Wilmington, April 5th, 1781," The Cornwallis Papers, British Public Record Office, PRO 30/11/85 
(21) [Copy found at Colonial Williamsburg Research Library, Williamsburg, Va.].

10.	Tarleton, pp. 280-281;  "Lord Charles Cornwallis to Lieut Colonel Nisbet Balfour, Wilmington, 
24th April, 1781," The Cornwallis Papers, British Public Record Office, PRO 30/11/85 (49) [Copy 
found at Colonial Williamsburg Research Library, Williamsburg, Va.].  Lord Cornwallis wrote that 
"the immense distance from hence to Camden, the difficulty of subsistence on the road and the 
impracticability of the passage of the Pedee against an opposing enemy would render a direct movement 
totally useless to Lord Rawdon [at Camden], and this corps might be lost in the attempt."  Although 
speaking of an overland march from Wilmington to Camden, His Lordship's comments probably reflected 
his sentiments on marching to Camden from Cross Creek.

11.	Scottish Journal; von Bose Journal, pp. 53-54;  "Map of Gray's Creek, 1888," by Bill Vanlandingham, 
website: URL- www. rootsweb.com/~nccumber/grayscreek.html.

12.	"Marquis de Malmedy to General Nathanael Greene, Cape Fear River, N.C. 2 April, 1781," Greene 
Papers, Vol. VIII, pp. 29-30;  "Colonel James Emmet to General Nathanael Greene, camp at Stewerts 
Creek, near Avery's, N.C., 2 April. 1781," Greene Papers, Vol. VIII, p. 28; General Nathanael 
Greene to General Alexander Lillington, from HQ, Ramsey's Mill, N.C., 29 March, 1781, Greene 
Papers, Vol. VII, p. 479.  Colonel Emmet requested that Major Lellorquis transfer Captain 
Pleasant Henderson's company to his militia command, and the latter complied.

13.	Scottish Journal; von Bose Journal, p. 54; Billie F. Evans (Chairperson), Bladen County 
Heritage, Vol. I  (Waynesville, N.C., 1999), p. 101.

14.	Web site: URL - www.silverwhistle, co.uk/lobsters/webster.html.

15.	Reverend Eli W. Caruthers, D.D., Revolutionary Incidents and Sketches of Character chiefly 
in the "Old North State" (Volumes I & II published in 1854 and 1856, re-published as a single 
volume by The Guilford County Genealogical Society, 1985), p. 154.; Scottish Journal; von Bose
Journal, p. 54.

16.	Scottish Journal; von Bose Journal, p. 54;  "Lord Charles Cornwallis to Major James Craig, 
camp - one mile below Elizabeth Town, 3 April, 1781," The Cornwallis Papers, British Public 
Record Office, PRO 30/11/85 (20)[Copy found at Colonial Williamsburg Research Library, Williamsburg, 

17.	Ibid.; "Lord Charles Cornwallis to Inglis [Fleet Captain on Cape Fear], camp near Livingston's 
Creek, April 5, 1781, "The Cornwallis Papers, British Public Record Office, PRO 30/11/85 (25) [Copy 
found at Colonial Williamsburg Research Library, Williamsburg, Va.].  I am indebted to Mrs. Katherine 
D. Benbow, Historian and web hostess, for the excellent web site "The Family of Charles Benbow from 
Trefeglwys Parish, Montgomeryshire, Wales."  The URL - www.charlesbenbow familyhomestead.com.  
A sub-chapter of the web site, entitled "The Family of James Carver: A Quaker family of England, 
Pennsylvania, & North Carolina" provides useful information on the probable British Army campsite.  
According to Mrs. Benbow, Carver's Quaker Meeting House was built on land donated to the Friends of 
Bladen County by James Carver, a fellow Quaker who owned much property in this area.  There are still 
Quaker fieldstone grave markers on the abandoned site, which has been built on by a modern Methodist 

18.	Scottish Journal; von Bose Journal, p. 54.  The map entitled "Plantations of the Lower Cape Fear, 
1725-1760," in Alfred Waddell's History of New Hanover County, proved hard to read as it was blurry 
in places.  I am indebted to Professor Chris Fonvielle of UNC-Wilmington for the correct spelling 
of Captain Joshua Gabourel's Bluff Plantation.  Dr. Fonvielle also found out that this land was 
later sold to Archibald Maclaine.  This effectively solves the discrepancy of the spellings of 
this name in our two journals.

19.	Von Bose Journal, p. 54.

20.	Von Bose Journal, p. 55.

21.	Ibid.

22.	Von Bose Journal, pp. 55-56.

23.	Von Bose Journal, p. 56.

24.	"State of the Troops in South Carolina under the Command of Lieutenant General Earl 
Cornwallis … 1st January, 1781," Sir Henry Clinton Papers, William L. Clements Library, 
Ann Arbor, Michigan;  "State of the Army with Lieutenant General Earl Cornwallis at Wilmington, 
N. Carolina," The Cornwallis Papers, British Public Record Office, PRO 11/103 X/J 5143 [Copy 
found at Colonial Williamsburg Research Library, Williamsburg, Va.].

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