In February 1776, the full moon fell on the 5th, while the new moon was on the 19th.

In February 1776, the full moon fell on the 5th, while the new moon was on the 19th.

Have you ever wondered what day of the week a historical event happened? Or what about what kind of moon was in the sky during that blustery February in eastern North Carolina when the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge was fought?

Well, now you can have your answers.

I got the idea to actually plot out a calendar for the characters in a historical novel I’ve been working on from Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. I thought it was a brilliant way to keep track of key events in the story, as well as when certain periods of time start and stop, without having to constantly refer back to a list of dates. Previously, I’d just been using an ever-growing list of dates, which confusingly, often overlap.

Problem was, I didn’t have any calendars for 1768-1769 just laying around the house, nor did my calendar in Outlook seem to offer an easy way to jump back nearly 250 years in the past to track events.

moon_phases_diagramTimeandDate.com to the rescue! On that site, I was able to create monthly calendars spanning from the year my novel begins in 1764 to well after it ends in 1772.

Naturally, being able to create a calendar like this is a benefit for genealogists, as well, as it lets you know the day of the week when an ancestor was born or died, as well as whether or not there was a full moon in the sky, or whether the night was black as pitch.

If you put together a family research book or website, think of the whole new dimension you could add by including days of the week and moon phases along with key events.

By the way, when the Continental Army and Militia forces launched their assault against their Loyalist opponents at Moore’s Creek Bridge, the majority of which were Scotsmen, near Wilmington on February 27, 1776, they did so just before dawn under a first quarter moon.

Here is a description of the battle from Wikipedia:

By the time of their arrival at Moore’s Creek, the Loyalist contingent had shrunk to between 700 and 800 men. About 600 of these were Scots and the remainder were Regulators.[16] Furthermore, the marching had taken its toll on the elderly MacDonald; he fell ill and turned command over to Lieutenant Colonel Donald MacLeod. The Loyalists broke camp at 1 am on February 27 and marched the few miles from their camp to the bridge.[15] Arriving shortly before dawn, they found the defenses on the west side of the bridge unoccupied. MacLeod ordered his men to adopt a defensive line behind nearby trees when a Revolutionary sentry across the river fired his musket to warn Caswell of the Loyalist arrival. Hearing this, MacLeod immediately ordered the attack.[11]

In the pre-dawn mist, a company of Scots approached the bridge. In response to a call for identification shouted across the creek, Captain Alexander Mclean identified himself as a friend of the King, and responded with his own challenge in Gaelic. Hearing no answer, he ordered his company to open fire, beginning an exchange of gunfire with the Patriot sentries. Colonel MacLeod and Captain John Campbell then led a picked company of swordsmen on a charge across the bridge. The Revolutionaries had removed the planking from the bridge and may have greased the log stringers, to make it difficult for the Loyalists to cross.[15]

During the night, Caswell and his men had established a semicircular earthworks around the bridge end, and armed them with two small pieces of field artillery. When the Scots were within 30 paces of the earthworks, the Patriots opened fire to devastating effect. MacLeod and Campbell both went down in a hail of gunfire; Colonel Moore reported that MacLeod had been struck by upwards of 20 musket balls. Armed only with swords and faced with overwhelming firepower from muskets and artillery, the Scots could do little else other than retreat The surviving elements of Campbell’s company got back over the bridge, and the Loyalist force dissolved and retreated.[17]

Capitalizing on the success, the Revolutionary forces quickly replaced the bridge planking and gave chase. One enterprising company led by one of Caswell’s lieutenants forded the creek above the bridge, flanking the retreating Loyalists. Colonel Moore arrived on the scene a few hours after the battle. He stated in his report that 30 Loyalists were killed or wounded, “but as numbers of them must have fallen into the creek, besides more that were carried off, I suppose their loss may be estimated at fifty.”[16] The Revolutionary leaders reported one killed and one wounded.[16]