On the morning of February 27, 1776, Patriot militia at Moores Creek Bridge defeated a Loyalist army marching to rendezvous with a British force on the North Carolina coast. This early Patriot victory during the American Revolution helped delay a full-scale British invasion of the southern colonies for several years. Commemorative efforts at the site of this battle began in 1856 with the drive to erect a monument. Forty years later, the property was preserved as a historical site by the state through the Moores Creek Monumental Association, a private organization. The federal government took over the site as a national park operated by the War Department in 1926; the National Park Service began managing the battlefield in 1933. For over a century, Moores Creek National Battlefield has evolved as a historical site preserving and interpreting the 1776 battle. Major themes in the battlefield's management history include the upgrading of facilities as visitation increased, the gradual transition of the site from a commemorative park to a historical landscape, and the change in emphasis from recreational to educational use.
Today, the National Park Service continues to manage Moores Creek National Battlefield as a historical site, encompassing 87.75 acres in rural Pender County, North Carolina. An average of sixty-two thousand people visit the battlefield each year to learn about the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge and life in colonial North Carolina. In order to preserve and interpret that history, the National Park Service maintains a visitor center and museum, two interpretive trails, a reconstructed bridge, traces of a historic causeway and earthworks, six monuments, and nine archeological features. Efforts are underway to restore the battlefield landscape to its 1776 appearance.
This administrative history traces the development and management of Moores Creek National Battlefield from the time of the 1776 battle to the present, especially the years of National Park Service administration. Chapter One provides background on the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge and its significance. Chapter Two details the creation and management of the historical site at the battleground prior to the 1933 transfer of the property to the National Park Service. Chapter Three chronicles the planning and physical development of Moores Creek National Battlefield between 1933 and the present. Chapter Four covers visitor services, especially the park's interpretation of the site to the public. Chapter Five looks at the park's efforts to preserve and protect its resources and includes sections on cultural resources, natural resources, and law enforcement. The five appendices provide a chronology for Moores Creek National Battlefield, a list of superintendents, annual visitation statistics, a list of relevant state legislation, and copies of relevant federal legislation. Lastly, a bibliography and an index are included.
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