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Full text of "Ceremonies at the unveiling of the monument upon Moore's Creek battle ground to the women of the Revolution, August, 1907"

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Ceremonies. . .Moore 1 s Creek 
Battle Ground - 1907 

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Unveiling of the Monument 

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AUGUST, 1907 

Speeches of 

Hon. E. A. HAWES 



Ladies and Gentlemen: 

It is my pleasure and privilege in behalf of the building 
committee of the Moore's Creek Battle Ground Association 
to present this monument, erected to the heroic women of 
the Revolution. The battles of war, apparently, have always 
fallen upon men, so monuments to heroes skilled in wielding 
the sword are nothing uncommon. But there is something 
peculiarly singular in connection with this monument we 
have met here today to unveil. In reading history I have 
never yet learned of a single instance where a monument 
stands upon a battlefield in the name of woman. But I am 
glad this association has seen fit to have the inscriptions read 
as they do. While comparatively few women have their 
names as a connecting link in the chain of history as Mrs. 
Slocomb, still they play their parts nobly at home. Thus 
fitting tributes should be paid them. 

The battle of Moore's Creek Bridge was no small event 
in the Revolutionary war. In the words of Dr. C. Alphonso 
Smith : "It was the Rubicon over which North Carolina 
passed to independence and to constitutional self-govern- 
ment. The old monument with the names of Richard Cas- 
well and Alexander Lillington, darkened by the duration of 
time, vividly recalls such men as James Moore, John Ashe 
and James Kenan as leaders of the Colonial troops. Thus 
this granite slab in recognition of women will recall, too, 
one of the most potent factors of war. When just recog- 
nition to the heroes of the lower Cape Fear has been given, 
their names will have transcended into a part of national 
song story. The monuments standing proudly upon this 


battlefield in the name of martyrs will not be to those gone 
by, but to the ever living and the ever loved. 

On this green bank, by this soft stream, 

We set today a votive stone ; 
That memory may their deed redeem 

When like our sires our sons are gone. 

Spirit that made those heroes dare 
To die and leave their children free, 

Bid Time and Nature gently spare, 
The shaft we raise to them and thee. 


Gentlemen of the Building Committee : 

It is with feelings of mingled pleasure and pride that I, 
on behalf of the Moore's Creek Monumental Association 
and the State of North Carolina, accept from you this 
beautiful memorial to our Revolutionary women. 

I also accept and thank you, for the repair of this old 

I fully appreciate the efforts of the committee to record 
and transmit to future generations the history of an heroic 
and honorable past. 

Gentlemen, I am well aware, that it is the fulfilment of 
an untiring work on your part, and so far as my knowledge 
extends, this memorial to our Revolutionary women, is the 
first in the State of North Carolina to be dedicated to such a 

We have now, on this sacred old battlefield, two monu- 
ments, one erected 1857 to the heroes of the battle of 
Moore's Creek, the American patriots; the other dedicated 
today to the heroic women of that eventful period. In all 
of the great achievements of man, woman has ever been 
ready to perform her part. 

There is no higher duty devolving upon us as members 
of the Moore's Creek Monument Association, than to pre- 
serve the names of our patriotic men and noble women, and 
it should be the constant aim of the Association to make this 
battlefield, as it deserves to be, famous in American history, 
so that a visit to it may re-enkindle the fires of patriotism 
which actuated our forefathers. 

Gentlemen of the Association, to your care, and to your 
protection, do I now commend these sentinels of liberty and 

patriotism, which bear testimony of arduous struggles of 
our brave ancestors; and as the cycles of time shall sweep 
over future generations, may the young of both sexes on 
reading these inscriptions, emulate the noble sentiments 
which governed those heroes and heroines of the American 

Ladies and Gentlemen, let us cast our eyes above and 
behold the flag of our commonwealth, let us ever remem- 
ber that North Carolina was the first of the thirteen original 
colonies to declare for separation and independence. 

We can not too often repeat that Hilton, a few miles be- 
low here, on the banks of the lower Cape Fear, was the birth 
place and cradle of American liberty. 

The heroic actions of the patriots of North Carolina be- 
fore and during the Revolution should be studied, by every 
reader of our nation's history. 

Last, but not least, let us love and cherish the beautiful 
stars and stripes which so proudly float over our battlefield 
today, and we should ever be willing and ready to assemble 
ourselves under the folds of that flag, and pay homage to 
the American patriot, whose sacrifices and bravery have 
given to us the grandest country in all the world. 


Ladies and Gentlemen, Fellow Citizens of the 

County of Pender and the Cape Fear Section: 

I rejoice with you exceedingly in the advent of 
this momentous occasion ; this glorious day in the history 
of Pender County and the Cape Fear Section of North 
Carolina, upon which we are again celebrating the Battle 
of Moore's Creek. I especially rejoice that we are here 
today to celebrate the completion of the work of the Moore's 
Creek Monumental Association, in the repairs of the monu- 
ment around which we have so often assembled in former 
days, the improvement of the battlefield and the erection of 
this beautiful new shaft to the heroic women of the Revolu- 
tion of the Cape Fear Section. 

For many years, in fact, ever since the County of Pender 
has been a part of the Third Congressional District, which 
it is my honor and privilege to represent, I have longed to see 
this glorious and auspicious day. In connection with the 
Moore's Creek Monumental Association, the citizens of 
Pender County and Cape Fear North Carolina, and the 
Senator, Honorable James F. Moore, and the Member of 
the Legislature from Pender County, Honorable A. H. 
Wells, and other citizens of Pender County, I have labored 
by day and night, in season and out of season and at all 
times, determined to bring our hopes and desires in regard 
to this monument and battlefield to a successful fruition 
and termination. I congratulate the members of the Monu- 
mental Association, all those who have interested themselves 
in this battlefield, and myself, upon the success of this 
great and important work of commemorating for all genera- 
tions the battle of Moore's Creek and the heroic men and 
women of this section of North Carolina. 

Gentlemen of the Monumental Association, you have per- 
formed your work well and the State of North Carolina 
through its annual appropriation secured by Pender's mem- 
ber of the Legislature and the Congress of the United 
States have shown their appreciation of your labors. Very 
much credit for the success of the movement to fitly com- 
memorate the battle of Moore's Creek should be given to 
Senator James F. Moore, Mr. Wells, your member of the 
Legislature and the members of the Moore's Creek Monu- 
mental Association. 

This day, fellow citizens, is of more than local interest 
and importance. This battlefield now having secured both 
national and state recognition will be handed down to future 
generations in the laws of our State and Nation as among 
the most important battlefields in the war of the Revolution. 
No longer can a distinguished Senator from Massachusetts 
or any other state show a lack of knowledge of the history 
of their country, and the battle of Moore's Creek will take 
the place in history it deserves as the first victory and one 
of the most important victories of the war of the Revolu- 
tion. These monuments upon this battlefield, one to the 
heroes who fought here on February 27, 1776, and one 
to the women of this section will stand for all times point- 
ing heavenward, as incentives to the people of North Caro- 
lina, and especially our young men and women to higher 
aspirations in our individual and national life. Plutarch 
said : "It was a custom of the Romans to erect monuments 
to the most celebrated and distinguished citizens and to carve 
upon each monument the illustrious achievements of him in 
whose honor the monument was erected. These monuments 
were set upon a hill and the Roman youth were bidden by 
their parents to study the lives of their distinguished ances- 
tors as they saw them carved in marble and they were told 
that they too would have a life monument erected to them 
and the record of their life work carved upon it, if 

they emulated the virtues and practiced the example of those 
who had gone before. All of the nations of the world com- 
memorate by statues and monuments those events in their 
history which have led to independence or marked epochs 
in their life. 

The battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, the first victory of the 
War of the Revolution has not received in the history of our 
country its just rank, nor has it been heralded to the 
world as the battlefields of New England, and yet the battle 
of Moore's Creek was as important as any conflict between 
the Colonists and the British upon New England soil. All 
true-hearted Americans take a just pride in the glorious 
achievements of New England and the great battles fought 
upon her soil and the memory of Concord and Bunker Hill 
and of Lexington, "Where once the embattled farmers stood 
and fired the shot heard round the world," are a part of the 
glorious heritage of the whole country. What the battle 
of Lexington was to the Northern Colonies, the battle of 
Moore's Creek was to the Southern Colonies. The British 
were preparing to invade the province of North Carolina 
and suppress the spirit of independence which was more 
forward in this province than in any of her sisters. 

Referring to my own speech delivered in the House of 
Representatives on January 12, 1904, upon the subject of 
Moore's Creek Battlefield Monument, the appropriation for 
which I subsequently secured, and to the account of the 
battle as contained in the Life and Correspondence of James 
Iredell, I want to present to your minds a picture of this 
battle and this illustrious event in the history of North 
Carolina and our common country. 

McRee says in his life of Iredell, it was on the 10th of 
January, 1776, from on board His Majesty's Sloop "Scor- 
pion," in Cape Fear River, Governor Martin, issued his 
Proclamation, declaring a state of rebellion; that he had 

erected the Royal Standard; and summoning all good sub- 
jects to rally to its support. On the 5th of February, Donald 
McDonald, Brigadier General of His Majesty's forces in 
North Carolina, issued a Proclamation, calling upon all loyal 
citizens to repair to the Royal Banner, in accordance with the 
Governor's Proclamation. McDonald's troops were to meet 
the Governor at Brunswick, on the 15th of February. Sir 
Henry Clinton, Commander-in-Chief, was expected from 
New York, Lord Wm. Campbell from South Carolina, and 
Sir Peter Parker at the head of a squadron. The whole, 
united, were to advance into the interior, and crush the 
province of North Carolina. The Highlanders were soon 
assembled to the number of two or three thousand; they 
were animated with the hope of retrieving the past, but a re- 
morseless fate was dogging the steps of these doomed men 
with a pertinacity surpassing that of their own "sleuth 
hound." One of their leaders was the husband of the cele- 
brated Flora McDonald, whose services to their fallen prince 
invested her in their eyes with a sacred character; her 
presence in their camp, and her counsel, enforced by the 
charms of beauty and wit, exalted their courage into enthu- 
siam. Though ultimately trodden into the dust by the armed 
heel of the British, yet could they recall occasions when 
their impetuous spirit had borne them, a resistless torrent, 
over the broken hosts of England. They, as soldiers, had 
been truly baptized in fire and blood; were renowned by 
their use of the claymore as the best swordsmen in the 
world, and now, certainly on the strong side, were flushed 
with the prestige of victory that attached to the meteor 
flag of St. George. They were marshalled by regular offi- 
cers, and could not but feel some contempt for the raw, un- 
disciplined militia of the Province. Evading the vigilance 
of General Moore, and crossing to the left bank of Cape 
Fear, they moved rapidly down the road to Moore's Creek. 


About seventeen miles from Wilmington, Moore's Creek 
was, as now, spanned by a small bridge. The creek is nar- 
row, but deep. About one hundred and fifty yards from 
the bridge on the afternoon of the 26th of February, Colo- 
nels Lillington and Ashe, at the head of a detachment of 
the Wilmington Minute Men and New Hanover Volunteer 
Rangers, had taken their post, determined to contest the 
passage of the Celts. They hastily threw up an intrench- 
ment at right angles with the road; two small field-pieces 
were placed in the center so as to sweep the bridge; their 
flanks were protected by the swamp skirting the Creek. Sub- 
sequently, Col. Caswell came up, and finding the front 
already occupied, drew up his forces in the rear in a sec- 
ond line. The whole American force amounted to about 
one thousand men and consisted of forces from New Han- 
over, under Lillington and Ashe, and of the Minute Men 
from Duplin, Craven, Johnston and Wake Counties, and a 
Battalion from New Bern. 

The Whigs were not in military costume, but clad in 
simple homespun; in their hands were no muskets whose 
bayonets gleamed in the sunshine, but long single-barrelled 
shot guns and rifles, whose range had often been proved 
in the deer hunt. 

About daybreak, on the 27th, the Highlanders came in 
sight of their antagonists, and the bag-pipes resounded upon 
the frosty air of the morning. They rapidly formed into a 
storming column, with a forlorn hope of seventy-five picked 
men in front; their General being sick, Colonel Donald 
McLeod took the command. The planks of the bridge had 
been hastily removed. Their way was effectually barred. 
Fight they must. They were celebrated for their dashing 
onset. At the word of command, they passed the bridge, 
and rushed forward with the force of the hurricane. Though 
shattered by the fire of the cannon, they closed up their 
broken ranks and pressed onward, as if to assured victory, 


while loud cheers accompanied their advance; but now was 
heard the voice of Lillington, and a sheeted flame blazed 
along the American line, attended with a report as of thun- 
der when it rattles amid the mountain crags. There was a 
moment of awful silence, in which the wind lifted the smoke 
as a curtain, from that stage of death. Seldom has there 
been disclosed to human eye a more appalling spectacle of 
carnage. In front were the dead, the dying, and the wound- 
ed — the background crowded with panic-stricken fugitives. 
Fifty were killed, among whom were Col. McLeod and Capt. 
Campbell. Fifteen hundred rifles; three hundred and fifty 
guns and shot bags ; one hundred and fifty swords and dirks ; 
two medicine chests worth $1,500, thirteen wagons with 
complete sets of horses, and 75,000 pounds sterling in cash 
constituted the booty. Eight hundred and fifty common sol- 
diers, General McDonald, and many officers were captured. 
Thus was won in North Carolina, by North Carolina men, 
the first great, undoubted triumph of the American arms. 
This gallant achievement entirely disconcerted the well- 
organized plans of the intended campaign ; and North Caro- 
lina had the honor to be the first of the provinces to repel 
the foe from her borders. The truth is that North Carolina 
never permitted the British to remain upon her soil. As 
at Moore's Creek Bridge she repelled the first invasion of 
her soil with North Carolina troops alone, so at King's 
Mountain she repelled with the aid of her neighbors, Vir- 
ginia and South Carolina, the second invasion of her soil. 
I am glad to say that the Congress of the United States, 
by the action of the Committee of Congress, of which I have 
the honor to be a member, has provided for a monument 
upon the King's Mountain battlefield as well as upon 
the Moore's Creek battlefield. There is interwoven 
with the battle of Moore's Creek other most important events 
in the history of North Carolina, and of the nation. Not 
only was this battle fought by heroic men from this section 


of the state, but by this battle and others of the Revolu- 
tion in which my state participated, imperishable glory and 
renown have been conferred upon North Carolina. The 
history of the great achievements of North Carolina in the 
War of the Revolution have been unjustly neglected or 
obscured by the writers of history, and her people have been 
oftentimes too modest to assert the rights to which they were 
entitled in respect to great events. North Carolinians are 
content "to be, rather than to seem" to achieve, rather than 
to boast of what they have achieved ; but the history of North 
Carolina, while not so well known as the history of New 
England is inseparable from the early settlement of our 
country and the history of the War of the Revolution. 
It is needless for me to recall to your minds that North Caro- 
lina was one of the foremost and staunchest of the colo- 
nies in the Revolutionary struggles and furnished more than 
her quota of men and eminent commanders, not only in that 
war, but in all subsequent wars in which the nation has 
been involved. During the Revolution North Carolina was 
frequently overrun by British invaders who, however, were 
repelled with great slaughter whenever an engagement took 
place. The battles of Alamance, Moore's Creek, Guilford 
Courthouse and King's Mountain, attest the fighting quali- 
ties of her heroes in the Revolution. Upon the battlefield in 
that war the record of North Carolina is among the fore- 
most. During the Mexican War the contribution of North 
Carolina to the National army was largely in excess of the 
average both in numbers and quality. In the Civil War she 
was first at Bethel, last at Appomattox, and farthest up the 
heights at Gettysburg. In the war with Spain one of her 
sons, Worth Bagley, was the first officer killed, giving up bis 
young life as a sacrifice to the nation, falling at Cardenas 
wrapped in the folds of "Old Glory," and it was the gallant 
William E. Shipp who fought side by side with the Presi- 
dent of our country, Theodore Roosevelt, at San Juan Hill. 


That war with Spain cemented the ties between the North 
and the South, and the soldiers of the North and South 
marched shoulder to shoulder in a common cause for the 
liberation of Cuba and for its independence, and protec- 
tion from Spanish tyranny; and by it much of the 
feeling" and passion engendered by the great civil war 
was obscured and obliterated. But, fellow citizens, how- 
ever brave may have been the heroes of that war with 
Spain, among all the North Carolinians who have fought 
and bled for their country in any war in which we have been 
engaged, these heroes of my section and your section of 
North Carolina who faced the British in 1776, upon this 
battlefield of Moore's Creek, were among the noblest, truest 
and bravest. The forces of the Colonies at Moore's Creek 
led by Caswell, the first Governor of North Carolina, and 
by Lillington, won a victory unparalleled in its value and im- 
portance by any similar battle. Much has been said and 
written as to whether Caswell or Lillington is entitled to the 
credit for leadership and for the victory. I have endeavored 
to present the facts as I have gathered them from history. 
Both were there, and if Caswell arrived upon the scene later 
than Lillington, or if Lillington was in the rear, it makes no 
difference for there was glory enough for all. According 
to the inscription upon the old monument only one man 
was killed upon the American side, John Grady, of the 
good County of Duplin. The inscriptions upon the old 
monument are as follows : 

"In Commemoration of the Battle of Moore's 
Creek Bridge, Fought Here February 27th, 1776. 
The first victory gained by the American Arms In 
the War of the Revolution. 

Caswell — 

Lillington — 
Here lie the remains of Private John Grady, of 


Duplin County, who fell bravely fighting for his 

"The first martyr in the cause of freedom in 
North Carolina, and the only Whig killed in this 

As at the battle of Alamance, North Carolina in advance of 
all other colonies called upon the nation to resist British 
tyranny and lighted the fires of patriotism which resulted 
in the independence of the country, so at the battle of 
Moore's Creek Bridge, North Carolina stemmed the tide of 
British invasion in the southern colonies and gave fresh 
hope to the patriots of the north. 

Following this battle came the Congress at Halifax, April 
12, 1776, in which North Carolina declared her independ- 
ence through her Congress assembled there, and also fol- 
lowing it came the Declaration of American Independence 
July 4th of the same year. No one of the heroes who fought 
here ever flinched from the call of duty, and all deserve and 
should receive now and for all time the thanks of their 
grateful and appreciative descendants and fellow country- 
men. Let this monument to them pointing heavenward, be 
an incentive to future generations of North Carolina and 
the Cape Fear section, and the citizens of the whole nation, 
and let it be an altar of freedom where we may kindle afresh 
the fires of patriotism should they ever begin to expire. The 
descendants of the men who fought here while they honor 
and respect the nation and fight in its defense and for its 
flag, will never submit to injustice and oppression from any 
source, nor permit their rights to be invaded by partisan 
decrees of Federal Courts, or by those individuals or cor- 
porations who would arrogantly attempt to over-ride and 
ignore the just laws of the State. 

Robert B. Glenn, the Governor of North Carolina, must 
have in his veins some of the spirit which dominated the 


patriots who fought upon this battlefield more than a century 

But, fellow citizens, I am especially delighted today in the 
fact that the Moore's Creek Monumental Association, after 
I had secured the appropriation from Congress with the aid 
of Senator Overman, in the United States Senate, in ad- 
dition to the repairs of the old monument, decided to erect 
here another monument to the heroic women of the Revolu- 
tion of the Cape Fear Section, who so justly deserve a place 
in history side by side with the heroic men whose battle cry 
was "Liberty or Death." This battle is connected with the 
history of two most charming women, Flora McDonald and 
Mary Slocumb. Flora McDonald was the wife of Allan 
McDonald, a relative of General McDonald, who led the 
Tory forces. It was this noble and beautiful girl who saved 
the life of Charles Edward Stuart, "Bonnie Prince 
Charlie," after the defeat of the Scotchmen and followers of 
the House of Stuart, at the Battle of Culloden. Mary 
Slocumb was the wife of Lieutenant Slocumb of the Patriot 
Army. She has many descendants scattered throughout this 
entire section of North Carolina, who honor and revere her 
memory. Her son served in the Congress of the United 
States, representing the district which I now represent, and 
her brother, Charles Hooks, was also a member of the Con- 
gress of the United States, representing the Wilmington 
District. This separate shaft, fellow citizens, erected upon 
this battlefield in memory of the heroic women of the Cape 
Fear, white and pure and stainless as the good women it 
commemorates, is the first recognition so far as I am in- 
formed of the women of the Revolutionary period of our 
history. Without them success in that war, and in every 
other war of the country would be impossible. In the war 
between the states it was the women of the South who as- 
sisted and aided the soldiers of the South during those four 
long years, when oftentimes amidst disaster and defeat the 


indomitable spirit of the South refused to succumb and sent 
out fresh thousands of her sons to die upon a hundred 
battlefields for a lost cause, yes, lost forever, but living- and 
cherished in its undying memories in the hearts of the people 
of the Southland; and when the Civil War was over it was 
the women of the South who raised before the manhood of 
the South a nobler standard and spanned the horizon with 
a bow of .promise, and it is the women of the South who 
with unchanging devotion upon each succeeding tenth of 
May come with love and music to scatter roses over our 
heroic dead. And so in the War of the Revolution the 
women of the Cape Fear Section of North Carolina stood 
side by side with their husbands and fathers and brothers 
in defense of the rights and liberties of the Colonies. No 
words I can utter can fitly eulogize the women of the Revo- 
lution. They were bold, patient, loving, long-suffering and 
brave. They defied the British and manifested a spirit with- 
out fear, nerving the hearts of the men of the Revolution to 
strive for independence. 

It was the women of Eden ton, North Carolina, who re- 
fused to drink tea because it was taxed by the British Par- 
liament. It was Mrs. Ashe, a North Carolina woman, who, 
when the British officer Tarleton ridiculed Col. William 
Washington and said he was so ignorant that he could not 
write his name, promptly retorted : "At least, Col. Tarleton, 
you must admit that Col. Washington knows how to make 
his mark." Whereat Col. Tarleton flushed with anger be- 
cause he bore upon his face the mark of the sword of Col. 
Washington. Finally it was Mary Slocumb, whose name is 
inscribed upon yonder beautiful monument of Italian marble, 
who upon this battlefield of Moore's Creek nursed the 
wounded and dying soldiers after a night ride of sixty-five 
miles from her home without an escort. All honor to her 
and her descendants and to every heroic woman of the 
Revolution and to their descendants, and the noble women of 


this day and time who reside in the Cape Fear Section of 
North Carolina, who would now do and dare as she did on 
that terrible night ride of 1776. 

No monuments of stone or marble can express our full 
appreciation of these brave men and women of the Revolu- 
tion, and their memories are enshrined in our hearts, and as 
we assemble each year around these monuments let us cherish 
the memory of their noble deeds and their heroism, and 
preserve for all coming generations of the noble people who 
inhabit Pender County and Cape Fear Section of North 
Carolina, the history of their lives and their glorious achieve- 
ments in the cause of American independence. They helped 
to lay the foundation of the greatest Government upon which 
the sun shines. 

"Nor shall their glory be forgot 
While Fame the record keeps ; 

And Honor marks the hallowed spot, 
Where Valor proudly sleeps." 

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