Who was Flora MacDonald?

Many Scotch Highlanders who were involved in the rebellion in 1745 in favor of the "Young Pretender" had settled in North Carolina, and were firm Loyalists. Among them was Flora MacDonald, who, in her beautiful young maidenhood, had saved the life of the "Pretender" after the battle of Colloden. She had settled at Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), with her husband and children, and had great influence among her countrymen. They were all true to King George; and when late in 1775, Governor Martin was acting in concert with Dunmore in southwestern Virginia, and was expecting a British force on the coast of North Carolina, he resolved to strike an effectual blow against the republicans of the province. He commissioned Donald MacDonald, an influential Scotchman at Cross Creek, a brigadier-general, and Flora's husband took a captaincy under him. He was authorized to embody the Highlanders and other Loyalists into a military corps, and raise the royal standard at Cross Creek. It was formally unfurled, at a large gathering of the clan, by Flora herself, who was then a handsome matron between forty and fifty years of age. Very soon fifteen hundred armed Tories gathered around it, while Colonel Howe was absent with his regiment, assisting the Virginians against Dunmore.

When Colonel Moore heard of this gathering of the Tories he marched with his regulars and some Hanover militia--eleven hundred strong--to disperse them. At the same time the Minute-men were gathering in large numbers. MacDonald was alarmed and fled toward the Cape Fear, hotly pursued by Moore. At a bridge over Moore's Creek (an affluent of the South River, a principal tributary of the Cape Fear), he was met by armed patriots of the Neuse region, under Colonels Caswell and Lillington, on the evening of the 26th of February, 1776. The following morning a sharp fight occurred there, in which the Loyalists were defeated and dispersed; many of them were killed, and more were made prisoners. Among the latter were the general, and the husband of Flora MacDonald. This victory greatly inspirited the Whigs and discouraged the Tories; and soon afterward the MacDonalds returned to Scotland in a sloop-of-war, encountering a French cruiser on the way. During an engagement between the two vessels, the brave Flora remained on deck, and was wounded in the hand.

Return to Our Country, Vol II