History of the 6th North Carolina Regiment, Continental Line

Formation of North Carolina's first two continental regiments was authorized by the Provincial Congress in 1775, in response to a proposal by the Continental Congress to form a Continental Army. After the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge and later British forays in the lower Cape Fear region in the spring of 1776, the Continental Congress resolved that North Carolina could raise two additional regiments--the NC Assembly decided to raise four more regiments.

Thus, the 6th North Carolina Regiment was formed in 1776. It was formed from men from the Wilmington and Hillsborough Military Districts, which made up nearly one-half the state including much of the backcountry. They were organized at Halifax, NC, under the command of Col. Alexander Lillington, hero of the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge.

When ready to march north to join the main army, they were instead called south to defend Charleston against a suspected second assault in 1776 (after the lst attack was repulsed in June). In the meantime, Col. Lillington stepped down due to ill health. He was replaced by Col. Gideon Lamb. The British did not return in 1776. The NC Line spent a miserable winter near Charleston without the supplies promised by South Carolina.

The 6th marched north in the spring and joined the main army, brigaded under Gen. Francis Nash. They were in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown, being at the Chew House in the latter and serving as rear guard for the American withdrawal during which Gen. Nash was mortally wounded. They were noted by one diarist as having captured sixteen guns during the attack, but having had to abandon them in the retreat.

They wintered at Valley Forge in Gen. Lachlan Macintosh's Brigade. The NC troops were noted by Washington to be the poorest supplied of all the destitute men there. Their desertion rate was 10 percent, the lowest in an Army that averaged 18 percent. It was a long way home.

In the reductions of 1778, the 6th was merged with the lst NC, assuming the lower regimental number. The supernumerary officers of the 6th were sent home to NC to recruit. All troops recruited by the 6th for the next several years were taken immediately into the other NC units. The 6th ceased to exist officially in early 1781.

In the meantime, the men of the 6th, now the lst, served at Monmouth, being engaged early and again late in the day, and in the Hudson Highlands. Some of them took part in the frontal assault by NC troops of Wayne's Light Infantry on Stony Point. In November 1779 they were ordered south to Charleston during the worst winter of the war. They arrived in time to take part in the defense and, along with the Virginians, took part in the only sortie during the siege.

On 12 May 1780, they went into captivity with the fall of Charleston. Many of them were sent to the prison hulks in the harbor while others were imprisoned on John's Island. The 6th disappeared from the field and on paper.


For a further study of the NC Line, read North Carolina Continentals or The North Carolina Continental Line in the American Revolution (a condensed version of the former) both by Hugh Rankin.

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Last updated 03/02/12 .