AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE TRAIL
As one of the original 13 colonies, North Carolina is steeped in varied Revolutionary history. The fever for independence spiked in communities across the state. Fayetteville’s revolutionary roots include the signing of the “Liberty Point Resolves” by the Cumberland Association; local men serving in the militia and enlisting in the Continental Army; Robert Rowan, an ardent supporter of independence who served in the Provincial Congress; and finally, the ratification of the U.S. Constitution at the State House. As you travel the American Independence trail, remember that you’ll drive to places where once only horses and wagons drove.
In June 1775, prompted by British actions that included the battles at Lexington and Concord and “arbitrary impositions,” a group known as the Cumberland Association signed a Committee of Safety document in Fayetteville that has become known as “The Liberty Point Resolves.” Fifty-five men signed this document, including Robert Rowan, merchant and entrepreneur who arrived in Cross Creek (later renamed Fayetteville) in the 1760s. Rowan served as a captain of the 1st NC infantry in the Continental Army. Through the colonial period, Robert Rowan’s political activity consisted of numerous terms in the General Assembly and the Provincial Congress, making him a leading spokesman on matters relating to American Independence.
Cumberland County witnessed divided loyalties unique to an area settled by a large population of Scottish immigrants who had taken a loyalty oath to England before deciding to board ships for America. However, many Scottish settlers sided with the Patriots fighting for independence, while others joined British troops to subdue patriotic fervor. Statistically, pre-1760, Scottish immigrants tended to align with the Patriots or Whigs, and those that settled here after the 1760s were generally Tories, also known as Loyalists. A clash between these neighbors occurred in February 1776, when Patriot militia, minutemen, and a few Continentals, including Captain Robert Rowan’s company, engaged the Scottish Highlander Militia at the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge. This three-minute battle squashed the hopes of the British to gather southern support for the Loyalist cause.
In 1780, Patriot cavalry camped just north of downtown Fayetteville for observation and other duties for five months. Lord Cornwallis marched his troops through Fayetteville in April 1781, after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, giving an uneasy feeling to local Patriots. Cornwallis counted on Fayetteville Loyalists to offer a place to rest and re-supply his troops. However, he arrived to find that the majority of Loyalists had been run out of the community. The remaining Patriots did not want to accommodate Cornwallis’ troops, but he still managed to find a place to bed down for the night. Lord Cornwallis and his red coats left peaceably and headed south toward Wilmington. Six months later on October 19, Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.