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[286] of six or eight hundred, was marching through
Chap. LVII.} 1775. Feb.
Duplin county, to effect a junction with Moore, Macdonald became aware of the extremity of his danger; cut off from the direct road along the Cape Fear, he resolved to leave the army at Rockfish in his rear, and by celerity of movement, and crossing rivers at unexpected places, to disengage himself from that larger force, and encounter the party with Caswell alone. Before marching, he urged his men to fidelity, expressed bitter scorn of ‘the base cravens who had deserted the night before;’ and continued: ‘If any amongst you is so faint-hearted as not to serve with the resolution of conquering or dying, this is the time for such to declare themselves.’ The speech was answered by a general huzza for the king; but from Cotton's corps about twenty men laid down their arms. The army then marched to Fayetteville, employed the night in crossing the Cape Fear, sunk their boats, and sent a party fifteen miles in advance to secure the bridge over South River. This the main body passed on the twenty first, and took the direct route to Wilmington. On the day on which they effected the passage, Moore detached Lillington and Ashe to reenforce Caswell, or, if that could not be effected, to occupy Moore's Creek bridge.

On the following days the Scots and Regulators drew near to Caswell, who perceived their purpose, and changed his own course the more effectually to intercept their march. On the twenty third they thought to overtake him, and were arrayed in the order of battle, eighty able-bodied Highlanders, armed with broadswords, forming the centre of the army; but Caswell was already posted at Corbett's Ferry,

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