As the strains of bagpipes filled the crisp evening air, three men wrapped in kilts and armed with broadswords led a final procession over the bridge at old Widow Moores Creek. Halting at the bridge’s edge, the Scottish dirge gave way to a lone voice in the inky darkness demanding to know who approached. “Friend!” the Scotsmen replied. “Friend to whom?” came the disembodied voice. “Friend to the King!” Immediately, two distant cannon cracked and boomed, startling the column of men, women, and children—all park visitors—stretched across the bridge. As the reports from Old Mother Covington and her daughter faded into the surrounding forest, the oohs and aahs of excited children permeated the air.
All evening—every fifteen minutes to be exact—park rangers led anywhere from 20-30 guests on the annual Moores Creek National Battlefield Candlelight Tour. Stopping at key stations to watch period reenactors recollect scenes from the February 1776 battle, streams of visitors were provided with a unique opportunity for entertainment as well as education. The ground beneath their feet, the lantern-wielding rangers recalled, was the site of the first significant Patriot victory of the American Revolutionary War—a victory which squelched any chance of a Loyalist uprising in North Carolina. From this battle North Carolina successfully ousted the royal government and gained independence, leading other colonies to follow suit with the signing of the Declaration of Independence just a few months later.
Since its inception many years ago, the Candlelight Tour has become a staple in Southeastern North Carolina—second only in attendance to the annual reenactment in February. Though visitors were required to sign up weeks in advance due to its popularity, the abundance of hot apple cider and engaging period reenactments brought a record breaking six hundred guests to Moores Creek on the evenings of November 16th and 17th. To light their path, volunteers placed over seven hundred luminaries along the main trail, blanketing the park in golden phosphorescence.
For two evenings, adults and children alike were transported back to a time before cars, washer machines, and computers. As camp fires and luminaries set the battlefield aglow, these visitors witnessed history clad in flesh and bone. For one more year, they peeked behind the veil of time to behold the world changing events that had, of all places, occurred in their own backyard. For this reason, and for so many others, the 2012 Moores Creek Candlelight Tour proved to be another resounding success.