Orton Mill and Kendal Plantation, North Carolina
11 May 1776
When Henry Clinton had anchored his fleet at the mouth of
the Cape Fear River it brought about a period of restlessness. Clinton
landed his men onshore and exercised the men every day out of the range
of the Americans on the shore. Four companies were on Battery Island;
four on Bald Head Island and the rest of the force was near Fort Johnson.
Knowing that he might be called upon to take Charlestown Clinton
drilled his men in street fighting.
With the waiting came restlessness. Clinton himself
decided to lead a night raid on the bridge at Orton Mill. Early on a
Sunday morning the British rowed upstream for fifteen miles with muffled
oars. At Robert Howe’s plantation, Kendal Plantation, they pulled into
shore. The British wanted to pay special attention to the home of Robert
Howe in retaliation to his forming North Carolina militia units early in
1775. The British soldiers made so much noise that the American sentries
heard them and killed one British soldier, Private George McIntosh of the
44th Regiment Light Infantry.
The American sentries were also able to collect their horses and throw
open the fences holding in the cattle. Clinton ordered his men to fix
bayonets and approach the house.
The women in the house were treated roughly. One was
shot through the hip, and another stabbed with a bayonet. A third was
butt stroked with a musket. During the raid the British had several men
wounded and a sergeant of the 33rd Regiment taken prisoner.
So brutal was the treatment of the women on the Howe Plantation that
Cornwallis and Sir Henry Clinton later gave them a financial
The British then marched on to Orton Mill, where Major William Davis
commanded a detachment of 90 North Carolina Continentals. Major Davis
discovered the approach of the British and withdrew with his baggage and
two swivel guns.
The British burned Orton Mills then plundered homes along the way on the
march back. All they received from this raid was 3 horses and 3 cows.