; born in Brunswick county
, N. C.
, in 1732; was in the legislature in 1773; was one of the
earliest and most uncompromising of the patriots of the Cape Fear
region, and was honored with an exception, together with Cornelius Harnett
, when royal clemency was offered to the rebels by Sir Henry Clinton
, in 1776.
He was appointed colonel of the 1st North Carolina Regiment, and with his command went early into the field of Revolutionary strife.
In December, 1775, he joined Woodford
, in opposition to Lord Dunmore and his motley army.
For his gallantry during this campaign, Congress, on Feb. 29, 1776, appointed him one of five brigadier-generals
in the Continental
army, and ordered him to Virginia
In the spring of 1776, British spite towards General Howe
was exhibited by Sir Henry Clinton
, who sent Cornwallis, with 900 men, to ravage his plantation near old Brunswick
He was placed in chief command of the Southern
troops in 1778, and was unsuccessful in an expedition against Florida
and in the defence of Savannah
His conduct was censured, but without just cause.
Among others whose voices were raised against him was Christopher Gadsden, of Charleston
required him to deny or retract.
would do neither, and a duel ensued.
They met at Cannonsburg
, and all the damage either sustained was
a scratch upon the ear of Gadsden
died Nov. 12, 1785.
In retaliation for incursions from Florida
(q. v.), General Howe
, at the head of 2,000 Americans
, mostly militia of South Carolina
, attempted the capture of St. Augustine
He met with very little opposition before he reached the St. Mary River
, where the British
had erected a fort, called Tonyn
, in compliment to the governor of the province.
On the approach of Howe
they destroyed the fort; and, after some slight skirmishing, retreated towards St. Augustine
But the Americans
were driven back from Florida
by a fever which swept away nearly one fourth of their number, and rendered their retreat absolutely necessary.