Livingston’s Creek, North Carolina
23 September 1781
For Two days after joining forces at McPhaul’s Mill Colonels McDugald and Ray skirmished with a body of Patriot horsemen that had pursued them. Outside of Elizabethtown McDugald’s men set up a defensive position at Hammond’s Creek Bridge. The Loyalists fought a delaying action that allowed McDugald to get the prisoners from Fanning’s raid to Major Craig.
Craig had heard of the capture of Governor Burke and anticipated the Loyalists route to Wilmington. He marched from Wilmington with a detachment of the 82nd Regiment and headed towards Cross Creek. He rendezvoused with McDugald at Livingston’s Creek, in Bladen County.
McDugald was still avoiding a body of Patriot horsemen that had been pursuing them in lower Bladen County. Craig thought the cavalry was under the command of Colonel Thomas Brown. Four hours after Ray and McDugald arrived at Livingston’s Creek fifty enemy horsemen did appear.
Craig ordered his cavalry and sixty infantrymen to disperse them. The British drove the mounted militia up the road for three miles, before discovering that 200 Patriots that had built a defensive position on the road. The British quickly recovered from their surprise and attacked the militiamen. The Patriot’s were surprised by this attack and retreated to Elizabethtown.
The British did not know what might be further down the road so they returned to Major Craig. Craig discovered that the Whigs were not Colonel Brown, but was the advance elements of the army of Brigadier General John Butler. Butler had been pursuing the Loyalists trying to beat them to Wilmington so he could rescue Governor Burke.
The British quickly returned to the security of Wilmington. Craig sent Governor Burke to the heavily fortified city of Charlestown. As long as Burke was a prisoner, Alexander Martin, the Speaker of the Senate, would be the acting governor of North Carolina.