Lord Dunmore dispatches note of "inexpressible mortification"

February 18, 1776 : Lord Dunmore dispatches note of “inexpressible mortification”


From Norfolk, Virginia, Royal Governor John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, dispatches a note to William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth, expressing his “inexpressible mortification” that British Major General Sir Henry Clinton had been ordered to the “insignificant province of North Carolina to the neglect of this the richest and powerfully important province in America.” Dunmore was facing expulsion from Virginia at the hands of the Patriots and was deeply insulted that the army chose to defend its claims to the less significant colony of North Carolina instead of the economically and politically vital colony of Virginia.


Having departed New York on February 12, General Clinton met with Governor Dunmore in Hampton Roads, Virginia, on February 17 while en route to Cape Fear, North Carolina; he was forced to remain in Hampton Roads until February 27 due to stormy weather. Clinton finally reached North Carolina on March 12, by which time the North Carolina Loyalists had been routed at Moore’s Creek Bridge on February 27. The royal governors of North and South Carolina met Clinton to give him the bad news, but Commodore Peter Parker and Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis had not yet arrived from Cork, Ireland, to support Clinton in his efforts to suppress the American rebellion. After waiting until May 31, 1776, for the last of the contingency to arrive from Cork, Clinton contemplated moving the British forces to the Chesapeake Bay, since North Carolina had already fallen to the Patriots, but Parker convinced him to head instead for Charleston, South Carolina.


Abandoned again, Dunmore returned to England after the publication of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776. The county named in his honor in 1772 was renamed Shenandoah County in 1778. His hunting lodge, Porto Bello, where he first fled the Patriot uprising, remains on the National Register of Historic Places for York County, Virginia.


Clinton, Parker and Cornwallis attacked Fort Sullivan outside Charleston to no avail and retreated to New York City.




Jack Manning

Treasurer General

National Society Sons of the American Revolution



“I am determined to defend my rights and maintain my freedom or sell my life in the attempt.”

Nathanael Greene