As one of the original thirteen colonies, North Carolina has a steep and varied Revolutionary history. The fever for independence spiked in communities across the state. Fayetteville’s revolutionary roots include the signing of the "Liberty Point Resolves" by the Cumberland Association; local men serving in the militia and enlisting in the Continental Army; Robert Rowan, an ardent supporter of independence who served in the Provincial Congress; and finally, the ratification of the U.S. Constitution at the State House. As you travel the American Independence trail, remember that you’ll drive to places where once only horses and wagons drove.
In June 1775, prompted by British actions that included the battles at Lexington and Concord, and “arbitrary impositions,” a group known as the Cumberland Association signed a Committee of Safety document in Fayetteville that has become known as “The Liberty Point Resolves.” Fifty-five men signed this document including Robert Rowan, merchant and entrepreneur who arrived in Cross Creek (later renamed Fayetteville) in the 1760s. Rowan served as a captain of the 1st North Carolina infantry in the Continental Army. Through the colonial period, Robert Rowan’s political activity consisted of numerous terms in the General Assembly and the Provincial Congress, making him a leading spokesman on matters relating to American Independence.
Cumberland County witnessed divided loyalties; unique to an area settled by a large population of Scottish immigrants who had taken a loyalty oath to England before deciding to board ships for America. However, many Scottish settlers sided with the Patriots fighting for independence, while many others joined British troops to subdue patriotic fervor. Statistically, pre-1760, Scottish immigrants tended to align with the Patriots or Whigs, and those that settled here after the 1760s were generally Tories also known as Loyalists. A clash between these neighbors occurred in February 1776, when Patriot militia, minutemen, and a few Continentals, including Captain Robert Rowan’s company, engaged the Scottish Highlander Militia at the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge. This three-minute battle squashed the hopes of the British to gather southern support for the Loyalist cause.
In 1780, Patriot cavalry camped just north of downtown Fayetteville for observation and other duties for five months. Lord Cornwallis marched his troops through Fayetteville in April 1781, after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, giving an uneasy feeling to local patriots. Cornwallis counted on Fayetteville Loyalists to offer a place to rest and re-supply his troops. However, he arrived to find that the majority of Loyalists had been run out of the community. The remaining Patriots did not want to accommodate Cornwallis' troops, but he still managed to find a place to bed down for the night. Lord Cornwallis and his red coats left peaceably and headed south toward Wilmington. Six months later on October 19, Lord Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown.
On August 3, 1781, a group of Loyalists that descended on a Patriot camp caught and killed nine Patriot militiamen that had served under General Nathaniel Greene at Guilford Courthouse. This became known as the Piney Bottom Massacre. Following the massacre, local Patriots and Loyalists both engaged in a number of retaliation attacks during the remainder of the war. The location of the Piney Bottom Massacre is inaccessible, because it is part of Fort Bragg.
When the war ended, delegates set forth to construct a new government. Upon the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, it was up to each individual colony to adopt, or ratify, this document that embodied rights and amendments. On November 21, 1789, representatives from across the state met in Fayetteville at the State House, ratified the U.S. Constitution, and became the 12th state to join the United States of America.
In May 1831, the State House was destroyed by fire along with 600 other structures in one of the cities worse fire disasters. The Market House was built in its place and stands at the same location.
As you travel the trail, you will learn about people and discover relationships that give Fayetteville a foothold in America’s Independence. You will see the grave of Isaac Hammond, a free black who was a fifer in the 10th North Carolina Regiment Continental Line and a statue of the Marquis de Lafayette, whose alliance with the Patriots proved vital to America’s victory. Fayetteville can proudly claim the first city in America to name itself for Lafayette and the only city named for him that he visited. Another place-name in Cumberland County also comes from the Revolutionary War—71st Township. The 71st Highlanders was a British regiment that marched through the area and surrendered at Yorktown.
Trail Mileage: 35 miles
Trail Time to Complete: 1 hour, 10 min (half-day trail)
Sites of interest on this trail may be classified in one of three ways: Open to the Public - The site is open to the public for a visit during their operating hours. By Appointment Only - The site is available to visitors anytime by viewing it from the exterior or by calling ahead and making an appointment with its administrators for the site to be opened during your visit. Exterior View Only - The site may only be viewed from the exterior for a visit. Visitors may receive written or audible information about trail sites at the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau through our Customize IT! system.