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What is Battle Royal (Batarora)?

Ben Steelman

According to a history of unincorporated communities compiled by Brunswick County Planning and Community Development, Batarora — also known as Battle Royal, Battleroil, Battle Riel or Battle Rial — is a small rural area in northeastern Brunswick County, located along Maco Road (N.C. 87) near the Batarora Branch of the Green Swamp. The N.C. Gazetteer puts it 10 miles west of Wilmington.

The name appears in a number of old deeds, and a Batarora Creek runs into Hood Creek.

Origins of the name are unclear. At least some sources trace it to the now-vanished Cape Fear Indians. Others link it to a nearby 1781 clash between Patriots and Loyalists.

According to historian James Sprunt and others, the skirmish occurred sometime after the Battle of Elizabethtown on Aug. 27, 1781 (“Tory Hole”), and the evacuation of the British 82nd Regiment, under Major James H. Craig, from Wilmington on Nov. 18, 1781.

In the “battle royal,” Craig and units of the 82nd joined with Loyalists (Tories) to attack an outpost of Brunswick County militia on Hood Creek, under Col. Jacob Leonard, which was blocking supplies from reaching Wilmington. Leonard detected the ambush and Patriot forces fled, although one rider was trapped under his horse (according to accounts) and bayoneted by the British.

The N.C. Gazetteer states that a tar distillery was located at “Battle Royal” in 1884.


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