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DAR remembers a patriot in the Carolinas

TEMECULA – Have you ever thought: if this event had not happened, what would this now be like? Historian Edward Channing ponders this question regarding the American Revolution. “Had the South been conquered in the first half of 1776, it is entirely conceivable that rebellion would never have turned into revolution.

At Moore’s Creek and Sullivan’s Island, the Carolinians turned aside the one combination of circumstances that might have made British conquest possible.” (National Park Service, Moore’s Creek Park)

This month the America250 Committee of Luiseño Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, looks at that combination of circumstances, and how it might have been experienced by Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Liddon.

North Carolina was divided; some citizens opposed the Loyalists (Tories) and the English King’s policies, while others sided with the British. Royal Governor Josiah Martin had lost control of the colony, and in May 1775, he fled to Fort Johnston at the mouth of the Cape Fear River.

Pulling his thoughts together, Martin put forth a plan to the King who approved it in late 1775. The Governor then issued a proclamation on Jan. 10, 1776, in which he called on all Loyalists to join together and put down “a most daring, horrid, and unnatural rebellion.” (National Park Service, Moore’s Creek Park)

For those who joined him, he offered promises of free land and a 20 year tax exemption; by February, Loyalists had organized at Cross Creek.

Meanwhile, the Patriots and Whigs set up their own government in September 1775, raised two regiments for the Continental Army and several battalions of minutemen, and organized militia districts. Colonel Joseph Moore became their strategist and commander.

Both sides were headed for Widow Moore’s Creek bridge, but the Loyalists led by Brigadier General Donald McDonald “realized he had lost the race to the bridge,” yet he knew that the Patriots led by Colonel Richard Caswell were “entrenched on his side of the bridge.” McDonald’s plan included an early morning attack on the patriots’ position, and began with the six-mile march to the bridge.

During the night, Caswell and his army abandoned their camp and moved to the other side of the creek where Colonel Alexander Lillington’s 150 Minutemen had thrown up additional earthworks. “The bridge floor was then partly removed and the girders greased.”

The Loyalists discovered the deserted camp, and waited for daybreak at which time they heard musket fire. The attack began on Feb. 27, 1776 – “with broadswords drawn and bagpipes playing, the Loyalists rushed the bridge and found the slippery girders difficult to cross.

The Patriots held their fire until several of the Loyalists had crossed the bridge and approached the earthworks. Suddenly, the Patriots opened with a withering fire from muskets and cannon.” (National Park Service, Moore’s Creek Park)

The few who made it across the bridge were caught by gunfire. With their leaders dead, the Loyalists retreated, leaving 50 killed, wounded, and missing. The Patriots suffered one fatality and two wounded.

Within two weeks of the battle at Moore’s Creek Bridge, all Loyalist men who were in the battle were captured along with 1,600 rifles, 350 guns and shot bags, 150 swords, and £15,000 in gold.

On April 12 – as a result of the Patriot success at Moore’s Creek Bridge – North Carolina sent delegates to the Continental Congress to support independence from England.

Born in Wilmington, North Carolina, Benjamin Liddon bore arms for his country during the Revolution. He served at the rank of colonel of a North Carolina regiment.

It is very likely that Colonel Liddon was knowledgeable of the battle at Moore’s Creek bridge, if not a part of the actual battle. He was awarded a tract of land on Stone River in Rutherford County, Tennessee, for “special service.”

Liddon’s personal life included his marriage to Sarah Rutledge. One son was born in 1793, and their three children were William, Sarah Jane, and Benjamin Franklin Liddon. Benjamin Liddon eventually removed to the Tennessee land, and in 1830, he sold that land and moved to Alabama.

This month, Luiseño Chapter and America250 honor Benjamin Liddon for his service. Men like Liddon are rarely in our history books, but without their beliefs and actions the rebellion might not have turned into the revolution. The Luiseño Chapter meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Assistance League in Temecula. The focus of the chapter is patriotism, historic preservation, and education. For more information, visit the public FACEBOOK page “Luiseño Chapter DAR - Temecula Valley, CA”.

Submitted by the Luiseño Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.


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