North Carolina Provincials

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Origin and History

North Carolina like many of the Northern Colonies raised men to serve only for the duration of individual campaigns. North Carolina being a very poor colony seldom had enough money to properly outfit her provincials or even pay them outside of the province. None the less, North Carolina always contributed as much as she was able to serve the common good. North Carolina received a supply of arms from the British government early in the war.

Service during the War

Campaign of 1754

In 1754, North Carolina sent a body of men to aid lieutenant-colonel George Washington in Virginia. The colony originally hoped to raise 750 men, but could only pay 450. These men were placed under the command of lieutenant-colonel James Innes. They arrived at Fort Cumberland, Maryland too late to aid in the defence of Fort Necessity. They were however in time for a winter offensive, proposed by the “local” governors. Part of the troops came overland and another group came by sea. By the end of June some 107 men had arrived by schooner in Alexandria.(Bryan Fairfax to George Washington, June 24, 1754) Many deserted. Captain McKay, of the South Carolina Independent Companies, despairing the lack of provisions at Fort Cumberland, commented:

“Some days ago we had 12 head of Cattle but they went away and I Suppose after the example of the No. Carolina Regt have gon home but this is not all our dependance for we have about 40 lb of Beacon and 3 Milk Cows one of which we have cot this day So if we go Soon on this new Sceam there is no doubt of our being well supplyed there being Such large provision made for it” (McKay to Washington; August 17, 1754, [1])

Although the fall/winter offensive was talked about among the governors, little was done to prepare for such a move. By late August, Innes disbanded the few remaining North Carolina soldiers. Innes, however, holding a king’s commission was left in charge at Fort Cumberland. It was hoped that his commission would be sufficient to prevent clashes with regard to rank between the Independent Companies of regulars there, and their provincial counterparts. This in some manner proved successful, as general Braddock would leave Innes in command at Fort Cumberland in 1755 during the campaign against Fort Duquesne.

Campaign of 1755

In 1755 North Carolina once again sent troops to Virginia to aid in Braddock’s campaign. The company of “rangers” under the command of Edward Brice Dobbs, had not reached Fort Cumberland by mid May, but reached Will’s Creek prior to the army’s march in early June. One of the sailors from the HMS Norwich, who kept a journal, stated: “ On the 30th : Arrived here a Company from North Carolina under the Command of Capt. Dobbs.” ( Sargent, 381. “the Seaman’s Journal”) The North Carolinians, some 72 strong, (Pargellis, Military Affairs in North America, 88-89) were assigned to the second brigade under colonel Dunbar. When general Braddock divided the army, the North Carolina men were left behind with Dunbar and the baggage. It is possible that some members of Dobb’s company joined the general when captain Adam Stephen was ordered to forward a convoy of provisions to Braddock’s advanced detachment.

Campaign of 1756

In 1756, North Carolina sent troops to New York to aid the British forces there. The North Carolina troops served under Shirley on the campaign to the Great Lakes. (Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe, 223) Some of these Provincials may have been present at Oswego when it fell to the French and Indians. Governor Dobbs also managed to get the Assembly to provide for a barracks and fort on the Western frontier. Construction was completed by the end of 1756 and the structure was named for the governor. The Frontier Company (approximately 50 men) used Fort Dobbs as a base of operations.

Campaign of 1757

In 1757, governor Dobbs at a meeting of the Southern Colonial governors in Philadelphia agreed to send 200 men to South Carolina, to defend Charlestown from an expected French attack. Problems between Dobbs and the Assembly concerning the Royal Prerogative prevented these troops from being sent to South Carolina. Dobbs, perhaps to put his colony in a better light, claimed and rightly so that the men were not needed after the arrival of Montgomery’s Highlanders. The problem with quartering the soldiers in Charlestown was also mentioned by Dobbs. The colony did adequately defend itself, however, some 150 men were kept up to secure the borders from the French and their allies. Dobbs reported:

“We are still free from any Incursions of the Indians in this province, having kept 2 Companies on the Western Frontier, but must now remove one of them to secure our Forts and Batteries on the Sea Coast.” ( Dobbs to Pitt, December 30, 1757; Kimball, The Correspondence of William Pitt, 154)

Campaign of 1758

In 1758, North Carolina sent troops to Virginia to aid in the Forbes expedition. Although Forbes expected no aid from either of the Carolinas, North Carolina raised 3 companies to send with the expedition against Fort Duquesne. Unfortunately the colony did not have the currency or credit to feed and pay the troops outside of the colony. Governor Dobbs informed Secretary of State Pitt of the colony's misfortune.

"We passed an Aid Bill in 8 days to make up the 3 Companies we had on Foot here of 50 Men [to] 100 Each, so as to send 300 to join General Forbes, and gave £10 Bounty to each able Volunteer to send them with Dispatch, and have raised 50 more in 2 Companies to defend the Forts on the Sea Coast. I have engaged a Sloop to carry 2 Company’s immediately to Potomac River in Virginia, with what additional Men they can raise, and to leave 3 additional Officers to raise and follow them as soon as possible, and the 3rd Company is to march immediately from our Western Frontier by Land to Winchester in Virginia to join the others, having commissioned a Major to Command them, but the Misfortune of this Province is that we have no Cash; our paper Currency at great Discount, and though we can raise and pay Men in the Province, yet we have no Credit to pay them out of the Province even at 50 p. cent loss – so that I have been obliged to write to Brigr Genl Forbes to credit them in their pay, and to reimburse himself out of the Dividend we are to have out of the £50,000 granted by Parliament to the Southern Provinces." ( Dobbs to Pitt May 7, 1758; Kimball, 240-241)

The North Carolina Companies reached Fort Loudoun (PA) in late July, most of the army had already advanced to Raystown. In spite of Dobbs' assurances of 300 men the North Carolinians were not even half that number. Desertion had wreaked havoc on the companies. When they arrived at Raystown the last day of July the first two companies only numbered some 96 men. The third company mustered only 46 men which were still at Fort Cumberland (MD) awaiting recruits. (Bouquet to Forbes, July 31, 1758; Stevens, Kent, Leonard, Bouquet Papers, Vol. II, 292)

The colonel did not think much of the North Carolina troops. Just a few days after the arrival of major Waddell and the first two companies Bouquet complained to Forbes.

"The North Carolina troops are in a pitiable condition, and lack health, uniforms and everything. I have never seen such misery. I believe they are good only for eating our Provisions or guarding a fort." (Bouquet to Forbes, August 3, 1758; Stevens, Kent & Leonard, 313).

After about a week in camp Bouquet sent the North Carolinians to relieve a company of Pennsylvanians and reinforce the fort at the crossing of the Juniata River. By early September, a small portion of the North Carolina troops (40) were recovered enough to be sent forward to the army's most advanced outpost at Grant's Paradise some 9 miles (15 km) west of Loyalhannon. The remainder were sent back to take over garrison duties at Fort Loudoun and Littleton (PA) to free up better troops for the army's next advance.

In the aftermath of Grant's defeat before the walls of Fort Duquesne, the North Carolina men were part of the force that successfully defended Fort Ligioner from a French counter-attack. By mid December the North Carolina companies had began their march for home.

Campaign of 1759

In 1759, Dobbs was once again willing to send North Carolina troops to aid their countrymen. He did not believe he would be able to send men northward again, however, governor Lyttelton of South Carolina had proposed an overland expedition against the French in Alabama. Dobbs hoped his soldiers could be a part of this enterprise, in spite of the colony's poor fiscal condition.

"But if any Attack is made at Mobile on the Missippi from Georgia we may have them ready to Join the South Carolinians where a late Campaign will answer to the Southward. We have not any arms for our Troops there are not 200 left but what have been left by Deserters or have been distributed to arm the Militia on the Sea Coast and northwestern Frontier." (Dobbs to Pitt, April 11, 1759; Kimball,Vol. II, 82)

This campaign failed to materialize, but a looming war with the Cherokee forced Lyttelton to ask for Dobbs' assistance anyway. Dobbs ordered major Waddell to be ready to take his provincials to South Carolina to aid Lyttelton if need be. Waddell was also given the power to call out 3 regiments of militia in case of necessity. Lyttelton did call on the North Carolinians but received no aid from them. Dobbs explained the problem to Pitt in early 1760.

"The few Provincials I sent and the Militia were on their March, but had not joined him before he concluded the Treaty," (Dobbs to Pitt, January 21, 1760; Kimball, Vol. II, 245.)
“but am sorry to inform you of the dastardliness of our Militia, for of 500 who were drafted and ordered upon that Service they all deserted except about 80, which is entirely owing to their want of Education & Instruction, for want of schools and a pious Clergy to inspire them with Christian Principles; However the Name of our joining them made the Cherokees sensible that the 3 Provinces wou’d join against them, which with the glorious Conquest of Quebec brought them to reason.” (Dobbs to Pitt, January 21, 1760; Kimball, Vol. II, 246.)

Campaign of 1760

By 1760, the Cherokee War had turned into a full blown conflict. Cherokee warriors raided the back settlements of Virginia and the Carolinas. Fort Dobbs, North Carolina's northwestern bastion, was attacked on February 27, 1760. The Provincials under Waddell sallied from the fort and fought off the warriors. Dobbs hoped to send men to aid the Virginians in the relief of Fort Loudoun (SC). Continuing difficulties with the Assembly prevented him from reinforcing the Virginians with North Carolina troops.

“Pass’d an Aid Bill in Two days so Crude and Undigested and so long Before the Men Cou’d be raised, Arm’d & Disciplined wou’d be of no Service to his Majesty in any Foreign Operations nor Even in the Cherokee War; His Majesty was only to have an Aid of 320 added to 30 before in Pay, these few Disciplined Men were to be made up Fifty, and Another Company of Fifty was to be Raised, and these were Obledged to Serve on the Frontier and not farther Act Against the Cherokees. Three Companys more of one hundred Each were To be raised in Order to join and Assist the Virginians if any were sent against the Cherokees, They were only to have Twenty Shillings Bounty Money when Before we Cou’d not raise 200 in Two months ten pounds Bounty was Given; These when raised I cou’d not give Commissions to for Forty days But Warrants to Militia Officers and Others to raise Men, And upon their Return after forty days, I was to give the command According to senority According to the Numbers Each raised, to men at Random no way proper to have a Command; These afterwards were to have been Disciplined for Which we had no Serviceable Arms in the Province, and were limited to serve only against the Cherokees," (Dobbs to Pitt May 29, 1760; Kimball, Vol. II 298.)

Unable to aid the Virginians, the North Carolinians patrolled the frontier, for the remainder of the year, to prevent further raids from the Cherokee. A punitive campaign against the Cherokee led by Archibald Montgomery (consisting of half a battalion of the 1st Royals and the 77th Highlanders) failed to bring the Cherokee to a peaceful settlement.

Campaign of 1761

In 1761 another campaign was launched against the Cherokees. In the 1761 campaign the North Carolina Provincials were ordered to join the Virginia Regiment near the Long Island of the Holston, in order to attack the Overhill Cherokee towns. The North Carolina and Virginia forces were supposed to attack the Overhill towns while a force of regulars (two companies each of the 17th Foot and 22nd Foot, 4 companies of the 1st Royals, and 8 Independent Companies, which were regimented into the 95th Foot) and the South Carolina Provincials, under James Grant attacked the Cherokee middle settlements. Neither the Virginians nor the North Carolina troops were in position to attack the Cherokee by the time Grant finished his campaign. In fact, the North Carolina troops had not yet joined the Virginians a month after Grant's return to Fort Prince George. General Amherst was sure the junction had already taken place in early August.

"Lt. Governor Bull, in a Letter of the 16th Ultimo, received on Friday Night, has the following Paragraph,” Governor Dobbs, on the 6th Instant, informs me, that he had received Your Excellency’s Orders for the North Carolina Regiment, to Join Col. Byrd’s Corps, and had Sent Orders for that Regiment to Rendezvous at Fort Dobbs, in North Carolina, & to March, as many as are ready, by Detachments, on the first Notice (554) from Colonel Byrd to Colonel Waddle, he having received Orders from Governor Fauquier to Notify Col. Waddle where to Join him,” agreeable to all which, I make no doubt but the Carolina Regiment has Joyned Colonel Byrd." (Amherst to Francis Fauquier, August 2, 1761; Reese, The Papers of Francis Fauquier, Vol. II, 555)

Unfortunately the North Carolina troops were further delayed. Early in September Adam Stephen, who took command of the Virginia Regiment after William Byrd resigned, moved to Fort Chiswell to make communication easier between the gathering North Carolina forces and the Virginians under his command. Stephen described his movement and the state of the North Carolina troops to lieutenant-governor Fauquier:

"and to be more at hand to dispatch an Express to Coll. Waddell, from whom I received a Letter directed to Coll. Byrd, & dated August 26th at Salisbury, about 200 miles from our Camp at Stalnakers, by which he informed, that he had just arriv’d there with 374 Men & 52 Indians, that he had not above 50 Stands of Arms for the Whole, but would Use his Endeavours to Collect a Sufficient Number through the Province and was ready to obey his Orders.
You are Sensible, Sir that New raised Men ill armed; can but ill execute Orders; however resolved to make the most of them, I have dispatch’d an Express to Coll. Waddel, informing him of the Generals Intentions, & beging him to hurry off his Men by Detachments to join us as fast as he can possibly get them Armed & Appointed." (Stephen to Fauquier, September 7, 1761; Reese, The Papers of Francis Fauquier, Vol. II, 569)

Waddell reached Fort Chiswell by October 8, 1761. By the end of October the North Carolina troops had joined the remainder of the Virginians at Long Island on the Holston. Waddell's men were some 179 strong (officers and servants included) divided into 6 companies. They were accompanied by some 38 Tuscarora warriors. (Return of a Detachment of the North Carolina Regt. encamped at Bigg Island on Houlston's River, 23 October 1761; Mays, 324). While the Virginians built Fort Robinson, the North Carolinians opened a road beyond the Long Island, toward the Cherokee village of Chota. The North Carolinians escorted Cherokee Indians to Fort Robinson, and participated in treaty negotiations in late-November. The North Carolinians were disbanded after the signing of the treaty, which bears Waddell’s signature. (Reese, The Papers of Francis Fauquier, Vol. II, 569, 592-93, 654).

In spite of the delays, the Virginia and North Carolina troops provided a valuable service. Their mere presence, combined with Grant's destructive campaign, threatened the Overhill towns enough to bring the Cherokee to a peaceful settlement.



For the most part, North Carolina could not afford uniforms for her soldiers. Given the distance between North Carolina and the various fronts where their troops were sent, any personal clothing the soldier might have would have been in poor condition. Therefore the commanders of the various expeditions were forced to uniform those troops. During Braddock's campaign, however, the North Carolina troops were outfitted with a uniform suit of clothing. This included blue breeches, red waistcoats and blue coats with red facings. During the Forbes campaign, the North Carolina troops were outfitted in "Indian Dress" This consisted of green leggings, breech clouts and white shirts. Match coats may have been issued as well. North Carolina also appears to have bought clothing for their men that were sent to act in conjunction with the Virginians against the Cherokee in 1761. No description has been found for this clothing issue.


In 1754, North Carolina forces serving outside the colony had very few weapons. As a result, they were issued arms and cartridge boxes from the colonies of Virginia and Maryland. By late 1754, however a shipment of 1,000 'Dutch' muskets and bayonets had arrived with the new governor Arthur Dobbs. Along with arms Dobbs also brought cartridge boxes and sea service swords. Halberds for sergeants and drums were also included in this shipment. (Mullins, 133-134) These arms were likely issued to the company that joined Braddock just prior to his march. Most of these arms were used to outfit the militia, others were stolen by deserters. By the time North Carolina sent troops to aid Forbes in 1758, the soldiers were once again in need of arms. The arms situation did not improve the rest of the war.


No information has been found yet on the officer uniform.


  • lieutenant-colonel James Innes 1754
  • major Edward Brice Dobbs 1756-1754, captain 1754-1755.
  • colonel Hugh Waddell 1760-1761, lieutenant-colonel 1759-1760, major 1758-1759, captain 1755-1758.
  • lieutenant-colonel Moore 1761
  • major Baillie 1761

Other officers:

  • in 1761
    • Capt. Robert Howe1
    • Capt. Charles Cogdell2

(1) A Return of a Detachment of the North Carolina Regiment Encamped at Bigg Island on Houlstons River 23d. October 1761, Amherst Papers, War Office, 34/47, f. 287

(2) Homer Keever, "Activities of Walter Lindsay Stand Out Among Soldiers In History Of Ft. Dobbs," Statesville Record And Landmark (Statesville, North Carolina), 19 Feb 1970, p. 2.


Drummers wore reverse colours of the rank and file (no documentation)


no information found yet


Amherst Papers

Goldstein, Erik The Socket Bayonet in the British Army 1687-1783, Mowbray Publishers; (Lincoln, 2000)

Kimball, G.S.; The Correspondence of William Pitt; (New York,1969).

Maas, John R, “All this Poor Province Could Do”: North Carolina and the Seven Years War, 1757-1762; The North Carolina Historical Review, NC Office of Archives and History; (Raleigh, 2002).

Mays, Edith; Amherst Papers, the Southern Sector, 1756-1763; Heritage Books, Inc.; (Bowie,1999)

Mullins, Jim; Of Sorts for Provincials, Track of the Wolf; (Elk River, 2008).

Pargellis, Stanley; Military Affairs in North America 1748-1765; Archon Books; (New Haven,1969).

Parkman, Francis; Montcalm and Wolfe, DaCapo Press; (New York, 1995)

Pennsylvania Archives Online, []

Reese, George edtr.; The Official Papers of Francis Fauquier; 3 Volumes; U of VA Press (VA Hist. Society); (Charlottesville, 1980).

Sargent, Winthrop; The History of An Expedition Against Fort Duquense'; Sharpe Papers, at the Maryland Archives online. []

S.K. Stevens, Donald Kent, Autumn Leonard, edtrs, The Papers of Henry Bouquet II : The Forbes Expedition, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, 1951.

Tortora, Daniel J., Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists, and Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756–1763. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Wahll, Andrew J.; Braddock Road Chronicles 1755; Heritage Books, Inc.; (Bowie,1999)

Washington, George; George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress. [].


William Jack for the initial version of this article

Daniel J. Tortora, author of Carolina in Crisis: Cherokees, Colonists, and Slaves in the American Southeast, 1756–1763, for additional information on officers of the unit