north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
 

 
 
 

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Essay:
      Alexander Lillington, Whig colonel at the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge, was born in 1720 in Beaufort Precinct. Lillington was orphaned and raised by his uncle Edward Mosley. Lillington made his living as a planter but increasingly with time defined himself as politician. In 1748 he was a lieutenant in the New Topsail company of militia which repelled a Spanish attack. Lillington’s military prowess did not go unnoticed. On February 27, 1776, he played a leading role in the Patriot victory at Moore’s Creek Bridge. Soon after Lillington was appointed colonel of the Sixth Regiment of North Carolina Continentals. Eight months later he resigned from the position, citing the fact that he was “unable to go on parole” due to “old age.”

      Throughout the time that Lillington spent on the military track, he also made his mark in government. Lillington represented New Hanover County in the colonial assembly and was appointed justice of the peace in 1764. In 1775 he was elected as New Hanover County’s safety commissioner. Lillington, along with John Ashe and Thomas Lloyd, directed protests to prevent the implementation of the Stamp Act. In 1779 he returned to the military and was named brigadier general in the district of Wilmington.

      Lillington was sent in 1780 to Charles Town, South Carolina, to aid General Benjamin Lincoln. He returned to North Carolina before Charles Town fell into British hands in May 1780. In January 1781 Wilmington would suffer the same fate as Charles Town. The fall of Wilmington only made Lillington’s ambitions stronger and he continued his condemnation of British rule as well as his open reprimand of North Carolina citizens’ failure to aid Wilmington in its time of need.

      At the end of the Revolution, Alexander Lillington returned to his estate to find that most of his possessions were intact, including his collection of books which are now located in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In April 1786, Lillington died. His final resting place is in his family cemetery near “Lillington Hall” in Pender County.


References:
Robert O. DeMond, The Loyalists in North Carolina During the Revolution (1979)
William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (2006)
William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, IV, 65-66—sketch by James M. Clifton
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