The 1st North Carolina Regiment was raised on 1 September 1775, at Wilmington, North Carolina, for service with the Continental Army. In January 1776 the organization contained eight companies. Francis Nash was appointed colonel in April 1776. The regiment was present at the defense of Charleston in 1776. It transferred from the Southern Department to George Washington’s main army in February 1777. At that time, Thomas Clark became colonel of the 1st Regiment. The unit became part of Nash’s North Carolina Brigade in July.
In 1777 the 1st North Carolina saw action at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown and it was present at White Marsh. Still led by Clark, it fought at Monmouth in June 1778. The North Carolina Brigade marched south under the command of James Hogun and arrived at Charlestown, South Carolina in March 1780. The 1st Regiment was captured by the British army at the Siege of Charleston on 12 May 1780. Clark and 287 men became prisoners. The regiment was reformed in the summer of 1781 and fought well in Jethro Sumner’s brigade at Eutaw Springs in September that year. The 1st North Carolina was furloughed on 23 April 1783 at James Island, South Carolina and disbanded on 15 November 1783.