About James Moore
James Moore (c. 1729 or 1737 – April 15, 1777) was a member of a prominent political family of the Carolinas. He served as Patriot military commander in North Carolina during the American Revolutionary War. He was one of only 5 generals from North Carolina to serve in the Continental Army.
Like his father, he had served in the colonial militia and was an experienced military officer at the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. After distinguishing himself as a colonel in victory at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge (February 27, 1776), he was promoted to brigadier general in the Continental Army. He was later appointed commander of the Southern Department, a position he would only hold for a few months before his sudden death in April, 1777.
Early life and ancestry
James Moore was born in New Hanover County in the Cape Fear region of the Carolinas in 1729. The family plantation was at Rocky Point, located at a bend in the Cape Fear River, located about 15 miles north of Wilmington. He was the son of Maurice Moore and his second wife, Mary Porter. His brother, also named Maurice Moore, was a prominent jurist and political leader of the Revolutionary side in North Carolina. His sister, Rebecca Moore, would marry another Revolutionary War leader, General John Ashe.
He was the nephew of Colonel James Moore, a soldier who distinguished himself for his defense of several North Carolina settlements during the Yamasee War. Colonel James and Maurice Moore were the sons of Governor James Moore, who had been the governor of the Province of Carolina when North and South Carolina were a single colony.
The Moore family was well established in the political scene of the Carolinas. Maurice had himself been a speaker of the North Carolina legislature. As speaker the Maurice Moore had championed settlement of the Cape Fear region under Governor George Burrington and led frequent conflicts with Burrington's successor, Richard Everard. He had another son, also named Maurice, who had been appointed as a Judge, but when the younger Maurice became a vocal opponent of the Stamp Act, he was removed from the bench by Governor William Tryon. The two brothers also served in the legislature at various times during the colonial period. One of General James Moore's nephews, Alfred Moore served in the Continental Army and would later become an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
Like other members of his family, Moore was an ardent supporter of the colonies in their many conflicts with Britain, both before and during the Revolutionary War. He served in the North Carolina House of Commons from 1764–1771 and again in 1773, representing his home county of New Hanover. He organized the Wilmington chapter of the Sons of Liberty in 1770, and through them organized a boycott of imported British goods. In 1774, he helped organize the First Provincial Congress, the first revolutionary legislature in North Carolina, established in opposition to the Loyalist government. In August, 1775 he was elected to the Third Provincial Congress, which organized the Colonial Militia and place Moore in command of the First Regiment of it.
James Moore was an experienced military officer prior to the American Revolution. In 1758, he was company captain at Fort Johnston for the North Carolina militia, and later served in the French and Indian War. In 1766, he led an armed mob in protest of the Stamp Act and got the ear of governor William Tryon, and his comptroller of customs, William Pennington. Pennington sided with the mob, and resigned his post rather than have to enforce the provisions of the Stamp Act. He served as a colonel of an artillery company in the colonial militia during the War of the Regulation, an populist revolt against the colonial government of North Carolina in the decade immediately preceding the American Revolution.
At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in 1775, the Second Continental Congress commissioned Moore as a colonel and on February 15, 1776 he given command of the First North Carolina Regiment, and placed in charge of the defense of the Cape Fear region. At the same time, the Colonial government in New Bern organized another militia under Colonel Richard Caswell, and sent this force south to meet up with Moore's regiment. The British forces, in cooperation with the loyalist elements of the colonial government, planned an invasion of North Carolina near Wilmington, a major seaport and strategic town in the Cape Fear region. The British force consisted mostly of recent Scottish immigrants to North Carolina; organized shortly after the outbreak of hostilities in 1775. Moore's role prior to the battle was to harass the loyalist troops and redirect their march to a location favorable to the Americans. Moore himself took up position near Cross Creek (near modern Fayetteville, North Carolina) behind the lines of the Loyalists, and positioned regiments of Colonels Caswell and Alexander Lillington at a bridge across what was known as "Widow Moore's Creek", keeping the bulk of those forces hidden from Loyalist view. The Americans also sabotaged the bridge, removing the cross planking and leaving behind only the stringers, making the bridge a precarious crossing. When the Loyalist army attempted to take the bridge in the early morning hours of February 27, they were met with fierce resistance; the Americans routed the British in less than three minutes, inflicting 70 casualties and capturing 850 loyalist soldiers, while themselves receiving only a single casualty. The battle was significant as the first decisive victory for the Americans in pitched battle, it would go far in helping swing sentiment for the Revolutionaries, especially in the South.
After his defense of Wilmington during the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, he was promoted to Brigadier General on March 1, 1776 and given command of all of the forces in North Carolina. As a brigadier, he served under General Charles Lee, commander of the Southern Department of the Continental Army. His first action as a brigadier was to lead a brigade during the Battle of Sullivan's Island near Charleston, South Carolina. Shortly thereafter, Lee was recalled to the north to aid in the defense of New York, and Moore was placed in command of the Southern Department in September, 1776.
As commander of the Southern Department, he organized an invasion of Florida in late summer 1776. He was then commanded to bring his troops into the North to aid George Washington, however given the imminent threat of another invasion of the Carolinas by British forces, he countermanded the order. He wintered with his troops in South Carolina, and on March 15, 1777 he was again ordered to take his troops north. He intended to comply with the order this time, and returned to Wilmington to put his affairs in order.
While preparing to march north in response to the second order from General Washington to do so, he took ill in April, 1777. He died in his home in Wilmington, North Carolina, on the same day and in the same house as his brother Maurice, having served less than a year as commander of the Southern Department.
The Wake Forest, North Carolina chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and a U.S. Army battery at the now defunct Fort Casey in Washington state were named in his honor.
-Another son of the first Maurice, James, soldier, born in New Hanover, North Carolina, in 1737" died in Wilmington. N. C., 15 January, 1777, was a captain of artillery under Governor Tryon at the defeat of the regulators at Alamance in 1771, colonel of the 1st regiment of North Carolina troops that was raised for the defence of the state, and in February, 1776, was in command of the forces, a part of which. under Colonel Richard Caswell and Colonel John A. Lillington, won the first victory of the Revolution at Moore's creek bridge, near Wilmington, over 1,500 Scotch Tories. He was promoted brigadier-general for this exploit, made commander-in-chief of the southern department, and received the thanks of congress. He died of a fever on his way to join Washington.--