Donald MacDonald

Punished for Fight He Didn’t Want

Biography

The highest-ranking of the Scottish Highlanders who moved to North Carolina after their defeat at the Battle of Culloden Moor, in which he fought[1], Donald MacDonald first arrived as a British soldier in 1758 to fight in the French & Indian War. It’s unclear where he was until the outbreak of the Revolution, though he married a North Carolina woman in 1760. He was wounded fighting with the British at the Battle of Bunker Hill outside Boston in 1775. Then MacDonald was sent by the British commander to recruit Highlanders here to fight for the king, in part because he and a companion spoke Gaelic. They landed at New Bern in plain clothes. Detained and questioned by its committee of safety, they were allowed to pass after claiming they were too badly wounded at Bunker Hill to fight anymore.[2] MacDonald coordinated with Royal Gov. Josiah Martin to bring a Loyalist force to Brunswick Town, to support British forces in regaining control of the colony. After outmaneuvering opposing Patriot forces at first, he found their way blocked again. He was too ill to win a debate with younger officers about going around the Patriots. They led the attack that became the disaster at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge. Captured at their camp, MacDonald was taken to the jail at Halifax and then to Philadelphia. He was exchanged the next year. MacDonald (no known relation to the famous Flora) is believed to have remained with the British army in the north for the rest of the war and returned to London afterwards.[3]

More Information


[1] Rankin 1971.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Clifton 1991.

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