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Brunswick County is where the first open armed resistance to the Stamp Act occurred on Nov. 28, 1765—eight years before the Boston Tea Party in 1773.
In 1763, England sent 10,000 new Red Coats to the Colonies and began taxing the Colonies to pay for this expense. The British imposed the Stamp Act in 1765, and this infuriated colonists.
Residents in Brunswick County led the first revolt against British ships. The Colonies seized control of the 13 colonial governments in 1775, established the Second Continental Congress and formed a Continental Army. A year later, the Colonists declared their independence and formed the United States of America.
The Revolutionary War officially began on July 4, 1776. The first American victory against the British occurred in Brunswick County—at Moore’s Creek Bridge on Feb. 27, 1776.
Formed in 1764, Brunswick County played an active strategic role in the Revolutionary War. General Robert Howe, a resident of Brunswick County, was a lead commander in General George Washington’s army.
Throughout the Revolutionary War, the British used their naval superiority to capture and occupy coastal cities, but control of the countryside, where 90 percent of the population lived, largely eluded them due to their relatively small land army.
Gen. Francis Marion, the Revolutionary War “Swamp Fox” visited Brunswick County often as he ambushed British Redcoats in swamps in South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina.
Marion’s brother, Issac, lived at the Boundary House in Calabash. Issac was the justice of the peace at the Boundary House when the Revolutionary War began.
Professor Scott Kaufman, associate professor of history at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C., recently told me Francis Marion was not nearly as tall as Mel Gibson portrayed in the movie “The Patriot.” He stood barely more than 5 feet tall.
Kaufman told me Marion could not run or sprint the way Gibson did in the movie because the general had a bad ankle that made him limp all the time. Also, the general did not have two children as portrayed in the movie; he had no children. He and his wife Mary Videau married late in life.
Marion was a great guerilla warfare commander who created serious problems for British Colonel Benestre Tarleton, depicted in the movie as Col. William Tavington.
Marion kept British forces pinned down in the Carolinas and his attacks on the Red Coats between Ocean Isle Beach and Florence, S.C., greatly helped his fellow patriots win the Revolutionary War.
From 1773 to 1776, more than 300 cargo vessels entered and cleared the port at Brunswick Town just up the river from Southport. Many of the vessels came right by Ocean Isle Beach.
Brunswick Town was a major supply base for the Colonists and is why British Red Coats from the Royal Navy ship “Cruizer” burned Brunswick Town to the ground in the spring of 1776. Brunswick Town had supplied England with 32 percent of all the tar, pitch, and turpentine used by its navy.
The British army finally surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. The Treaty of Paris in 1783 officially ended the war and recognized the sovereignty of the United States over the territory bounded by what is now Canada to the north, Florida to the south and the Mississippi River to the west.
At the end of the Revolutionary War, there was not a single town in Brunswick County, because Brunswick Town had been destroyed. The town was never rebuilt. In fact, Fort Anderson during the Civil War was built on top of old Brunswick Town.
The next article titled “The Pioneer Period at Ocean Isle Beach (1785-1859)” will appear next week in the Beacon.