north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     James Moore, brigadier general in the North Carolina Continental Line, was born in 1737 in New Hanover County. Moore came from one of the most distinguished families in North Carolina. The son of Colonel Maurice Moore, the principal leader of the migration of prominent South Carolina planters to the Cape Fear from Charleston in the 1720s and founder of Brunswick, James Moore was also the brother of Revolutionary political leader and superior court judge Maurice Moore, as well as Rebecca Moore, who married local political leader and militia general John Ashe. His uncle, Roger Moore, owned Orton Plantation.

     Little is known of Moore’s early life, although he apparently was well educated. He settled on a plantation along the Cape Fear River near Rocky Point, roughly fifteen miles north of Wilmington. Active in the military, Moore first joined the militia as a captain in 1758, serving as a garrison commander at Fort Johnston. During the War of the Regulation, he commanded a battalion in William Tryon’s army and fought at the Battle of Alamance in 1771.

     During the Stamp Act Crisis of 1765-1766, Moore led mobs which descended on both Brunswick and Wilmington to oppose British tax policies and he was instrumental in forcing the resignation of British comptroller of customs William Pennington. In early 1770 Moore, alongside Cornelius Harnett, organized a chapter of the Sons of Liberty in Wilmington. An active member of the New Hanover County and Wilmington Committees of Safety, Moore aided in shipping supplies to Boston in 1774-1775 after the Boston Port Act. Elected to the Third Provincial Congress in 1775, Moore was instrumental in forming the North Carolina Continental Line, and was appointed colonel of the first regiment that September.

     In February 1776, Moore skillfully maneuvered his forces between the Loyalists assembled at Cross Creek and their proposed rendezvous with British forces at Wilmington. The move forced the Loyalists to engage American forces at Moore’s Creek Bridge, resulting in a disastrous defeat for the Highlanders. Although Moore did not take part in the actual battle, his strategic maneuvering was central to the American victory. In response, on March 1, 1776, Moore was appointed the brigadier general in command of all Continental forces in North Carolina.

     When Major General Charles Lee was recalled to the northern theater in September, Moore was given overall command of the southern department by Congress. In January 1777 he marched his brigade to Charleston. However, Congress in February ordered him to march the North Carolina Continental brigade to the north to join the main army under General George Washington. Moore’s health had been irreparably weakened by the winter operations and he died on April 9, 1777, in Wilmington of “a bit of gout in his stomach.”

     Loyalist Janet Schaw left a fitting, if unintended, eulogy for Moore, stating that he was “a man of the most unblemished character . . . and a virtuous life.” Moore left a wife, Ann Ivy Moore, and four children. His daughter Sarah married Brigadier General Francis Nash, Moore’s replacement as commander of the North Carolina Continentals, who was killed in action at Germantown in October 1777. A son, James Moore, Jr., obtained a lieutenancy in his father’s old regiment in April 1781, but was wounded and permanently disabled four months later at the Battle of Eutaw Springs.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 299-300—sketch by George Troxler
Janet Schaw, Journal of a Lady of Quality (1921 reprint edition)
Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard, Fortitude and Forbearance: The North Carolina Continental Line in the Revolutionary War, 1775-1783 (2004)
Hugh Rankin, The North Carolina Continentals (1971)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

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