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Vol. XVni JULY, 1918 No. 1 

North Carolina Booklet 









Isaac Shelby 


- 3 

By Aechibai,d Hendebson 

Negro Soldiers 

By Chief Justice Walter Oi.abk 

North Carolina's Dead 

Other North Carolina Heroines 

By Maet Hilliaed Hinton 



Entered at the Postoffice at Raleigh N C, July 15. 1905, under the Act of 
Congress of March 3. 1879 

\ P^ 9 1 Q 4. 

O' (C* J. tj ^ 

The North Carolina Booklet 

Great Events in North Carolina History 

Volume XVIII of The Booklet will be issued quarterly by the 
North Carolina Society, Daughters of the Revolution, beginning July, 
1918. The Booklet will be published in July, October, January, and 
April. Price $1.00 per year, 35 cents for single copy. 

Editoe : 


Biographical Editor: 
Mrs. E. E. Moffitt. 


Isaac Shelby, Part II — Dr. Archibald Henderson. 

Other North Carolina Heroines : Margaret McBride, Mary Morgan, 
Elizabeth McCraw, Elizabeth Forbes, Margaret Caruthers, Ann Fer- 
gus, Rachel Denny — Mary Hilliard Hinton. 

The History of Agriculture in North Carolina — Major William A. 

North Carolina's Poetesses, Past and Present — Nina Holland Cov- 

Calvin Jones: Physician, Soldier and Freemason — Marshall De- 
Lancey Haywood. 

Reminiscences of Shocco and Jones Springs — Old-fashioned North 
Carolina Summer Resorts. 

History of Orange County, Part II — Frank Nash. 

Woman's War Work: 

(a) Woman's Contribution to the Patriot Cause. 

(b) Woman's Service in the War Between the States — Martha 

H. Haywood. 

History of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. 

General William R. Davie's Mission to France. 

Brief Historical Notes will appear from time to time in The 
Booklet, information that is worthy of preservation, but which if not 
preserved in a permanent form will be lost. 

Historical Book Reviews will be contributed by Mrs. Nina Holland 
Covington. These will be reviews of the latest historical works 
written by North Carolinians. 

The Genealogical Department will be continued with a page devoted 
to Genealogical Queries and. Answers as an aid to genealogical 
research in the State. 

The North Carolina Society Colonial Dames of America will fur- 
nish copies of unpublished records for publication in The Booklet. 

Biographical Sketches will be continued und^r Mrs. E. E. Moffitt. 

Old Letters, heretofore unpublished, bearing on the Social Life of 
the different periods of North Carolina History, will api.'^ar here- 
after in The Booklet. 

This list of subjects may be changed, as circumstances sometimes 
prevent the writers from keeping their engagements. 

The histories of the separate counties will in the future be a 
special feature of The Booklet. When necessary, an entire issue 
will be devoted to a paper on one county. 

Parties who wish to renew their subscriptions to The Booklet 
for Vol. XVIII are requested to give notice at once. 

Many numbers of Volumes I to XVII for sale. 

For particulars address 

Miss Mary Hilliard Hinton, 

Editor North Carolina Booklet, 
"Midway Plantation," Raleigh, N. C. 


Vol. XVra JULY, 1918 No. 1 


North Carolina Booklet 

'Carolina I Carolina I Heaven's blessings attend her I 
While zve live zve will cherish, protect and defend her' 

Published by 



The object of The Booki-et is to aid in developing and preserving 
North Carolina History. The proceeds arising from its publication 
will be devoted to patriotic purposes. Editoe. 





Mes. Hubebt Haywood. 
Mes. E. E. Moffitt. 
Mb. R. D. W. Connor. 
Db. D. H. Hill. 
Db. William K. Boyd. 
Oapt. S. a. Ashe. 
Miss Adelaide L. Fbies. 

Miss Maktha Helen Haywood. 

Db. Richaed Dillaed. 

De. Kemp P. Battle. 

Me. James Spetjnt. 

Me. Maeshall DeLancey Haywood. 

Chief Justice Walter Olaek. 

Majoe W. a. Geaham. 

Db. Charles Lee Smith. 

editor : 

Miss Mary Hilliaed Hinton. 

biogbaphical editoe : 

Mrs. E. E. Moffitt. 



Mrs. Marshall Williams, 
Regent, Faison. 

Mrs. E. E. Moffitt, Honorary 
Regent, Richmond, Va. 

Mrs. Thomas K. Bbunee, 
Honorary Regent, Raleigh. 

Miss Mary Hilliard Hinton, 
1st Vice-Regent, Raleigh. 

Mrs. Paul H. Lee, 2d Vice- 
Regent, Raleigh. 

Mrs. George P. Pell, Recording 
Secretary, Raleigh. 

Miss Winifred Faison, Corre- 
sponding Secretary, Faison. 

Miss Georgia Hicks, Historian, 

Mrs. Charles Lee Smith, 

Treasurer, Raleigh. 

Mrs. George Ramsey, Registrar, 

Mrs. John E. Ray, Custodian of 

Relics, Raleigh. 
Mrs. Laurence Covington, 

Executive Secretary, Raleigh. 
Mrs Charles Wales, 

Genealogist, Edenton. 
Miss Catherine Albertson, 

Junior Director, Elizabeth City. 


Bloomsbury Chapter Mrs. Paul H. Lee, Regent. 

Penelope Barker Chapter , Regent. 

Sir Walter Raleigh Chapter Mrs. I. M. Meekins, Regent. 

General Francis Nash Chapter Miss Rebecca Cameron, Regent. 

Roanoke Chapter Mrs. F. M. Allen, Regent. 

Mary Slocumb Chapter Miss Georgia Hicks, Regent. 

Colonel Thomas Robeson Chapter Mes. Annie Buie, Regent. 

Tuscarora Chapter Mes. C. H. Hunter, Regent. 

Foundee of the North Carolina Society and Regent 1896-1902 ; 

Mrs. spier WHITAKER.* 

Regent 1902: 

Mrs. D. H. HILL, SR.f 

Regent 1902-1906: 


Regent 1906-1910: 

Mrs. E. E. MOFFITT. 

Regent 1910-1917: 


♦Died November 25, 1911. 
tDied December 12. 1904. 

The North Carolina Booklet 

Vol. XVIII JULY, 1918 No. 1 


Revolutionary Patriot and Border Hero 

Part 11—1780-1783 
By Aechibald Henderson 


At the appointed time, September 25, the several forces 
united at the rendezvous^ already rendered famous by the 
great treaty held by Colonel Eichard Henderson with the 
Cherokees there in March 1775, the Sycamore Shoals of the 
Watauga. Hither came Colonel William Campbell with two 
hundred men, Colonel Arthur Campbell with two hundred 
men, Colonel Isaac Shelby and Lieutenant-Colonel John Se- 
vier with two hundred and forty men each — ^uniting with the 
force of one hundred and sixty men under Colonel Charles 
McDowell and Major Joseph McDowell, who had been en- 
camped there for some time. An "express" sent by Colonel 
William Campbell from Washington County, Virginia, had 
already notified Colonel Benjamin Cleveland of Wilkes 
County, ISTorth Carolina, of the plan ; and Cleveland was also 
urged by an "express" from Colonel McDowell to join the 
"over-mountain men" on the east side of the mountains with 
as large a force as he could raise. 

The task of raising funds to equip the forces of Shelby and 
Sevier, and to defray the expenses of the campaign was an 
extremely difficult problem. The settlers generally had ex- 
pended their available money for their lands ; and so the only 
available funds were in the hands of the Entry-taker of Sulli- 
van County, John Adair. When Sevier applied to him for 


the money needed to defray the expenses of the military expe- 
dition, Adair replied: 

Colonel Sevier, I have no authority by lav? to make that disposition 
of this money. It belongs to the impoverished treasury of North 
Carolina, and I dare not appropriate a cent of it to any purpose. 
But, if the country is over-run by the British, liberty is gone. Let the 
money go too. Take it. If the enemy, by its use, is driven from the 
country, I can trust that country to justify and vindicate my conduct. 
Take it. 

For this indispensable sum, amounting to twelve thousand 
seven hundred and thirty-five dollars, Shelby and Sevier 
pledged themselves to see it refunded or its use legalized by 
an act of the Legislature; and this recogTiizance was after- 
wards scrupulously fulfilled. -"^ 

It seemed to the enemy that the over-mountain men had 
been assembled as if by magic. "The wild and fierce inhabi- 
tants of . . . (the) settlements westward of the Alleghany 
mountains/' said Mackenzie in his Strictures, "assembled 
suddenly and silently." In his letter of October 24, 1780, 
Lord Kawdon significantly observed : "A numerous army now 
appeared on the frontier^ drawn from N^olachucky, and other 
settlements beyond the mountains, whose very names had been 
unknown to us." On September 26, this force of one thou- 
sand and forty frontiersmen set forth upon the march. Be- 
fore leaving the camp at Watauga, a farewell sermon was 
delivered by the Reverend Samuel Doak, who (according to 
trustworthy tradition) urged them to do battle valiantly, clos- 
ing with a stirring invocation to "the sword of the Lord and 
of Gideon" — a sentiment gTeeted with a lusty shout of 
acclaim from the hardy mountaineers. At Quaker Meadows 
in Burke County^ the famous home of the McDowells, which 
they reached on September 30, there was encamped a force 
of three hundred and fifty militia — the hardy followers of 
that fierce and blood-thirsty fighter. Colonel Benjamin Cleve- 
land, "Old Roundabout," who called themselves "Cleveland's 
Bulldogs" ; the stalwart rifiemen of Rutherford under Colonel 

iRamsey : Annals of Tennessee, 226. 


Andrew Hampton, and the flower of the militant citizenship 
of Surrj led by a bom leader of men, a cousin of Patrick 
Henry, Colonel Joseph Winston.^ 

Already on September 14 preceding, General William Lee 
Davidson had ordered Cleveland to unite with other forces to 
resist Ferguson's advance; and under the present plan the 
prospects seemed to favor successful resistance. The com- 
manders of the different divisions, all of whom had acted with 
executive authority, controlled their troops only through vol- 
untary agreement on the part of the privates. In view of 
petty disorders and insubordination, the commanding officers 
on the second day (October 2) after resuming the march, held 
a conference to devise plans for quieting the disturbances, 
and also for the purpose of choosing a leader. "It was 
resolved," says Shelby in his Pamphlet (1823), "to send to 
Head-Quarters for a general officer to command us ; and that, 
in the mean time, we should meet in council every day to 
determine on the measures to be pursued, and appoint any of 
our own body to put them in execution. I was not satisfied 
with this course, as I thought it calculated to produce delay, 
when expedition and dispatch were all important to us. We 
were then in sixteen or eighteen miles of Gilbert Town, where 
we supposed Ferguson to be. I suggested these things to the 
council, and then observed to the officers, that we were all 
ITorth Carolinians except Col. Campbell, who was from Vir- 
ginia ; that I knew him to be a man of good sense, and warmly 
attached to the cause of his country ; that he conmianded the 
largest regiment; and that if they concurred with me, until 
a general officer should arrive from Head-Quarters, appoint 
him to command us, and march immediately against the 
enemy. To this proposition some one or two said 'agreed.' 
No written minute or record was made of it."^ Shelby 
acknowledges that that he did this to "silence the expectation 

^A. C. Avery : "Quaker Meadows," in North Carolina Booklet, IV, No. 3 ; 
W. A. Graham : General Joseph Graham, 273-283 ; G. T. Winston : "The Life 
and Times of Major Joseph Winston," 1895 ; J. Crouch : "The Life and Char- 
acter of Col. Benjamin Cleveland," 1908. 

^Appendix to L. C. Draper's King's Mountain and its Heroes, 564. 


of Col. McDowell" to command the •expedition. This was 
a legitimate expectation on the part of Col. McDowell, who 
was the commanding officer of the district in which the force 
was operating, and had, as Shelby further admits, "com- 
manded the armies of militia in that quarter all the summer 
before against the same enemy." The objections urged 
against McDowell by Shelby were that he was "too far 
advanced in life" and "too inactive" for the command of an 
expedition which required extraordinary resources in strength 
and endurance. The first objection, mentioned by Shelby at 
the advanced age of seventy-three, is not founded on fact, and 
was perhaps due to defective memory; for McDowell was 
a vigorous young man of thirty-seven in 1Y80. In hiis 
narrative,* Shelby states merely that McDowell "was too 
slow an officer" for the enterprise. There was at no time any 
question of the bravery or patriotism of McDowell.^ 

During the progress of the conference, Campbell took 
Shelby aside and requested that his name be withdrawn and 
that Shelby himself take the command. To this, Shelby very 
correctly replied that he was the youngest Colonel present; 
and that McDowell under whom he had served, would resent 
his elevation to the chief command. Shelby probably realized 
that the over-mountain men, at all times unaccustomed to 
strict military discipline and somewhat prone to insubordina- 
tion, would not readily accept the leadership in this meteoric 
campaigTi of a militia commander conspicuous neither for rare 
discretion nor for exceptional efficiency. The selection of 
Campbell was undoubtedly a temporary expedient, a tactful 
mode of bridging an awkward situation; yet it is clear that 
these border leaders would never have agreed to Shelby's sug- 
gestion that the chief command be given, even temporarily, to 
Campbell, had they not recognized in him an efficient leader 
and known him to be a true soldier. One final conclusion is 

^American Review, December, 1848. 

^Other graver objections to the selection of McDowell as leader of the cam- 
paign have been mentioned. In this connection see Draper's King's Moun- 
tain and Its Heroes, 87-9, and A. C. Avery's "Burke County," 90, in Western 
North Carolina (1890). 


irresistible: that Shelby himself^ as originator and prime 
mover in the expedition, more than any other was entitled to 
the chief command. 

Colonel McDowell, who, as Shelby frankly says, "had the 
good of his country more at heart than any title of command," 
cheerfully acquiesced in the council's decision; but observed 
that as he was not to have the chief command, he would volun- 
teer to convey to headquarters at Hillsborough the request for 
a general officer. On October 4, McDowell started on his 
errand from the mouth of Cane Creek near Gilbert Town, 
where the American force was encamped.® He bore with 
him a significant letter, to which the chief historian of the 
battle did not have access.^ He left his men under the com- 
mand of his brother, Major Joseph McDowell. Colonel 
Campbell now assumed temporarily the chief command, but 
he was to be regulated and directed by the determinations of 
the Colonels, who were to meet in council every day. It is 
noticeable that the list of signatures is not headed by that of 
Campbell, and does not include that of Charles McDowell, 
the bearer. 

Rutherford County, Camp near Gilberttowu 
Oct 4, 1780. 

Sib, We have now collected at this place about 1500 good men, 
drawn from the Counties of Surry, Wilkes, Burke, Washington and 
Sullivan Counties in this State, and Washington County in Virginia, 
and expect to be joined in a few days by Col. Clarke of Georgia, and 
Col. Williams of South Carolina, with about 1000 more — As we have 
at this time called out our Militia without any orders from the 
Executive of our different States, and with the view of Expelling the 
Enemy out of this part of the Country, we think such a body of men 
worthy of your attention, and would request you to send a General 
Officer, immediately to take the command of such Troops as may 
embody in this quarter — Our Troops being all Militia, and but little 

"It is worthy of note that, on his way to Hillsborough, McDowell called at 
the camp of Lacy and Hill, with their South Carolinians, and at that of \"vii- 
liams with the Rowan Corps, at Flint Hill, a dozen miles or so to the eastward 
of the head of Cane Creek. These forces, being thus notified of the march 
against Ferguson, formed a junction with Campbell's forces on October 6. 

''Draper makes no mention of this letter, the original of which is in the 
Gates Papers, Archives of the New York Historical Society. For a transcript 
of this letter I am indebted to Mr. Wilberforce Fames, of the New York Public 
Library, and to Mr. Robert H. Kelby, Librarian of the New York Historical 


acquainted with discipline, we could wish him to be a Gentleman of 
address, and able to keep up a proper discipline, without disgusting 
the Soldiery — Every assistance in our power, shall be given the Offi- 
cer you may think proper to take the command of us. 

It is the wish of such of us as are acquainted with General David- 
son and Col. Morgan (if in service) that one of them Gentlemen may 
be appointed to this command. 

We are in great want of Ammunition, and hope you will endeavor 
to have us properly furnished with that Article. 

Col. McDowell vrill wait upon you with this, who can inform you 
of the present situation of the Enemy, and such other particulars 
respecting our Troops as you may think necessary. 
We are Sir, Your most obdt. and very hble. Servts. 

Benja. Cleveland, 
Isaac Shelby, 
John Sevtee, 
Andw. Hampton, 
Wm. Campbell, 
Jo. Winston. 
(Public Service) 

The Honorable Major General 
Horatio Gates 

Commander in Chief of 

the Southern Army. 
By Col. Charles McDowell Major General Smallwood 

Letter from 

Col. Cleveland &c^ 
4th October SO. 

A memorable incident, indicative of the indomitable de- 
termination of the American forces, deserves record here. 
Before resuming the march on October 3, the Colonels noti- 
fied the assembled troops of the nature and hazard of the 
enterprise before them ; and the oifer was made that any one 
who so desired, might withdraw then and there from the cam- 
paign. Shelby thus laconically addressed the men : 

You have all been informed of the offer. You who desire to 
decline it, will, when the word is given, march three steps to the rear, 
and stand, prior to which a few more minutes will be granted you 
for consideration. 

^Cf. N. C. State Records, xiv, 663-4. A photographic facsimile of the signa- 
tures to this letter, made at my order from the original letter, shows that, 
contrary to the testimony of Mr. Roosevelt, who spells it "Cleavland," the 
correct spelling is "Cleveland." 


After a pause the order was given that "those who desired 
to hacJc out would step three paces to the rear," but not a man 
withdrew. Shelby then addressed the men in words which 
convey a vivid impression of the spirit of the movement and 
the character of the campaign : 

I am heartily glad to see you to a man resolve to meet and fight 
your country's foes. When we encounter the enemy, don't wait for 
the word of command. Let each one of you be your own officer, and 
do the very best you can, taking every care you can of yourselves, 
and availing yourselves of every advantage that chance may throw in 
your way. If in the woods, shelter yourselves, and give them Indian 
play ; advance from tree to tree, pressing the enemy and killing and 
disabling all you can. Tour officers will shrink from no danger — 
they will be consistently with you, and the moment the enemy give 
war, be on the alert and strictly obey orders.* 

The taunt of Ferguson, by which he had hoped to intimi- 
date the men of the back-country, evoked a retort he little 
expected. Ferguson's principal object at this time was to 
strike a crushing blow at the small band of partisans under 
Captain Elijah Clarke, who about the middle of September 
was threatening Augusta, Georgia, and was still hovering 
dangerously near the Carolina line. Ferguson was hoping 
for and expecting the return of furloughed loyalists in large 
numbers under Gibbes, the militia under Cruger at JSTinety- 
Six, or Tarleton's Legion ordered thither by Cornwallis. Two 
deserters from the camp of the Americans came in on Septem- 
ber 30 to warn Ferguson of the approach of the frontier army. 
Had Ferguson struck straight for Charlotte and a junction 
there with Cornwallis^ he might have eluded Campbell's 
force. But he was confronted with the danger of permitting 
the union of the forces of Clarke and Campbell ; the necessity 
of recalling numerous Tories^ absent on furlough belonging 
to his own force ; and the danger of disaffection to the loyalist 
cause on the part of the people of that region. Perhaps Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Cruger had a deeper insight into the nature of 
the situation than had Ferguson ; for in his reply (October 3, 
1Y80) to Ferguson's dispatch of September 30th, with its 

'Testimony of John Spelts, called "Continental Jack," who was present. 


alarming news of "so considerable (a) force as you understand 
is coming from the mountains," Cruger makes these eminently 
sane observations: "I Don't see bow you can possibly (de- 
fend) the country and its neighborhood that you (are) now 
in, ... I flattered myself they (the Tory militia) 
would have been equal to the mountain lads, and that no 
further call for the defensive would have been (made?) on 
this part of the Province. I begin to think our views for 
the present rather large. We have been led to this, proba- 
bly, in expecting too much from the militia. "-^^ 

Aware of some of the dangers incident to the situation, 
Ferguson despatched messengers to Cornwallis, asking for 
assistance ; but these, being pursued, were delayed by reason 
of the circuitous route they were forced to take^ and so did not 
reach Charlotte until the day after the battle at King's Moun- 
tain. Ferguson scorned to seek protection by making a 
forced march in order to effect a junction with Cornwallis at 
Charlotte. He preferred to make a stand, and, if possible, 
to dispose once for all of this barbarian mountain horde. 
From his camp FergTison issued the following inflammatory 
and obscene appeal to the people, well calculated to arouse 
their bitter hostility to the approaching band, which he char- 
acterized as murderers of men and ravishers of women. 

Denard's Ford, Broad River, 
Tryon County, October 1, 1780. 

Gentlemen : — Unless you wish to be eat up by an inundation of bar- 
barians, who have begun by murdering an unarmed son before his 
aged father and afterward lopped off his arms, and who by their 
shocking cruelties and irregularities, give the best proof of their 
cowardice and want of discipline; I say if you want to be pinioned, 
robbed, and murdered, and see your wives and daughters, in four 
days, abused by the dregs of mankind— in short, if you wish or 
deserve to live, and bear the name of men grasp your arms in a mo- 
ment and run to camp. 

The Back Water men have crossed the mountains ; McDowell, 
Hampton, Shelby, and Cleveland are at their head, so that you know 

MThis letter was found on Ferguson's dead body, after the battle of King's 
Mountain. See Ramsey : Annals of Tennessee, 241-2. 


what you have to depend upon. If you choose to be p — d upon by 
a set of mongrels, say so at once, and let your women turn their 
backs upon you and look out for real men to protect them. 

Pat. Ferguson, 
Major 71st Regiment.^ 

Loitering on his march, presumably in the hope of striking 
Clarke, Ferguson did not reach King's Moimtain until Octo- 
ber 6. On reaching Gilbert Town (near Rutherfordton, 
JN^. C.) on October 4, the Americans discovered that Fergu- 
son had retired. "Having gained a knowledge of his design/' 
related Shelby, "it was determined in a council of the princi- 
pal officers to pursue him with all possible* dispatch. Ac- 
cordingly two nights before the action the officers were 
engaged all night in selecting the best men, the best horses 
and the best rifles, and at the dawn of day took Ferguson's 
trail and pursued him. , . . The mountain men had 
turned out to catch FergTison. He was their object, and for 
the last thirty-six hours they never alighted from their horses 
but once to refresh at the Cowpens for an hour (where they 
were joined by Col. Williams of South Carolina, on the even- 
ing of the 6th with about 400 men), although the day of the 
action was so extremely wet that the men could only keep their 
gTins dry by wrapping their bags, blankets and hunting shirts 
around the locks, which exposed their bodies to a heavy and 
incessant rain."^^ 

In this connection, there is need of further detail in regard 
to the force under Williams. The account given by Draper 
is at once imperfect and distorted ; and his estimate is griev- 
ously warped by the prejudiced account written by South 
Carolinians who held Williams in detestation. James D. 
Williams was not a South Carolinian ; he was born in Han- 
over County, Virginia, in November, 1740. Since childhood 
he had lived in Granville County, IST. C, whither the Williams 

^Virginia Gazette, November 11, 1780. The barbarous atrocity alluded to at 
the beginning of this letter is unsupported by evidence of any kind. 

^'Autobiography of Isaac Shelby, an exact transcription of which I procured 
from the late Colonel R. T. Durrett, of Louisville, Kentucky. The valuable 
Durrett Collection of Manuscripts on Western History is now owned by the 
University of Chicago. 


family removed at an early date ; and here he remained until 
1772, when he went to South Carolina and settled on Little 
Eiver in Laurens County. At the battle of Musgrove Mill, 
as related by Shelby himself, Williams^ ^ commanded the 
American center, while Shelby and Clarke commanded the 
right and left wings, respectively. The most reliable authori- 
ties state that Williams held the chief command in this bat- 
tle. ^^ On his arrival at Hillsborough whither he conducted 
the prisoners taken at Musgrove Mill, Williams conveyed the 
news of this victory to Grovernor Rutledge of South Carolina, 
then a refugee from his own State. In recognition of the 
victory at Musgrove Mill, achieved by the force commanded 
by Williams^ Governor Rutledge commissioned him as a 
brigadier general in the South Carolina militia.-*^^ On Sep- 
tember 8, Governor Abner Nash of North Carolina instructed 
General Williams to go to Caswell and other counties and 
recruit a corps of volunteer horsemen, not to exceed one hun- 
dred, for active service against the enemy. -"^^ This force, 
about seventy in number, Williams enlisted chiefly while 
encamped at Higgins' plantation in Rowan County. These 
recruits were brave and reliable soldiers ; and they came from 
a county noted for its patriotism and its hostility to England. 
"It was evident and it had frequently been mentioned to the 
King's Officers," says Banastre Tarleton in his Campaigns 
of 1 780 and 1 781 in the Southern, Provinces, "that the coun- 
ties of Mecklenburg and Rowan were more hostile to Eng- 
land that any others in America. "■'■^ 

^Cf. "Isaac Shelby," I, p. 140, North Carolina Booklet, January, 1917. 

"A Sketch of the Life and Career of Col. James D. Williams, by Rev. J. D. 
Bailey (Cowpens, S. C, 1898). 

i^The official report, which In itself constitutes proof that Williams was in 
command at Musgrove Mill, was drawn up and signed by Williams ; and this is 
the only contemporary report of the battle from the field. On September 5, 
1780, Williams' official report was forwarded by General Gates to the Presi- 
dent of Congress. The full report was published in the Pennsylvania Packet 
on September 23, and doubtless earlier in North Carolina newspapers ; but the 
substance of the report, doubtless communicated by Governor Rutledge, ap- 
peared in the Virginia Gazette as early as September 13. Compare also North 
Carolina University Magazine, March, 1855. 

I'For a copy of the original order, see Schenck, North Carolina, 1780-1781, 

"The slur cast upon these Rowan recruits by the venomous Colonel Hill in 
his Manuscript Narrative only reflect upon their author. The Legislature of 
North Carolina, in November, 1788, acting upon a report submitted by Mr. 
Thomas Person, resolved : "That the estate of James Williams, deceased, late 


The number chosen from the over-mountain men to go 
forward from the ford of Green River on the night of Octo- 
ber 5 J was about seven hundred ; and at the Cowpens, as accu- 
rately stated by Shelby, they were reinforced by four hundred 
men under Williams. -^^ Here a second selection of nine hun- 
dred and ten horsemen was made ; and Colonel Campbell was 
retained in the chief command — the urgency of the pursuit 
making it inadvisable to await the coming of the general offi- 
cer for whom Col. Charles McDowell had gone to Hillsbor- 
ough. This force, closely followed by some eighty-odd foot- 
men ("foot-cavalry") pushed forward from the Cowpens on 
the night of October 6, in pursuit of the elusive Ferguson. 

So heavy was the fall of rain during the forenoon and so 
weary and jaded were the men, that Campbell, Sevier and 
Cleveland urged a halt ; but to this proposal the iron Shelby, 
intent upon the capture and destruction of the men who had 
threatened to hang him, gruffly replied with an oath : "I will 
not stop until night, if I follow Ferguson into Cornwallis' 
lines." As they approached King's Mountain, they encoun- 
tered three men who reported that they were just from the 
British camp, which was posted upon the plateau, and that 
there was a picket guard on the road not far ahead. "These 
men," says Benjamin Sharp in his account, "were detained 
lest they should find means to inform the enemy of our ap- 
proach, and Col. Shelby, with a select party, undertook to sur- 
prise and take the picket ; this he accomplished without firing 
a gun or giving the least alarm ; and it was hailed by the army 
as a good omen."^^ 

isQn October 2, Brigadier General Williams reported to Major-General Gates 
that the number then with him in Burlie County was "about four hundred and 
fifty horsemen." Cf. N. C. State Records, xv. 94. He was in error as to his 
location, which was actually in Lincoln County. 

'^^ American Pioneer, February, 1843. 

of the State of S. C. be released and acquitted from the payment of $25,000 
advanced to the said deceased in his lifetime (1780) by this state for the pur- 
pose of raising men for the defense of this and the United States, it having 
been manifested to this Assembly that he was in action at the Battle of King's 
Mountain where he headed three or four hundred men and in which action he 
gloriously fell, a sacrifice to liberty." See W. A. Graham : Gen. Joseph Gra- 
ham and His Revolutionary Papers, 282-3. In speaking of "our march to the 
Yadkin," Cornwallis calls the Rowan section "one of the most rebellious tracts 
in America." 



The remarkable battle which ensued presents an extraordi- 
nary contrast in the character of the combatants and the 
nature of the strategy and tactics employed. Each party ran 
true to form — the heroic and brilliant Ferguson repeating 
Braddock's suicidal tactics of opposing bayonet charges to 
the deadly fusillade of riflemen^ carefully posted, Indian 
fashion, behind trees and every shelter afforded by the natural 
inequalities of the ground. In the army of the Carolina and 
Virginia frontiersmen, composed of independent commands 
recruited from many sources and each solicitous for its own 
credit, each command was directed in the battle by its own 
leader. Campbell, like Cleveland, Shelby, McDowell, Sevier, 
and Hambright, personally led his own division; but the 
nature of the fighting and the peculiarity of the terrain made 
it impossible for him, though the chosen commander of the 
expedition, in actuality to play such a role. The tactics 
agreed upon in advance by the frontier commanders were 
simple enough — to surround and capture Ferguson's camp 
on the high plateau. The more experienced Indian fighters, 
Sevier and Shelby, unquestionably suggested the general 
tactics in accordance with their experience, which in any case 
would doubtless have been employed by the frontiersmen: to 
give the British "Indian-play," namely, to take cover any- 
where and fire from natural shelter. Cleveland, a Hercules in 
strength and courage, who had fought the Indians and recog- 
nized the wisdom of Indian tactics, ordered his men, as did 
some of the other leaders, to give way before a bayonet charge 
— but to return to the attack after the charge had spent its 

My brave fellows, we have beaten the Tories and we can do it again. 
. . . If they had the spiilt of men, they would join with their 
fellow-citizens in supporting the independence of their country. When 
you are engaged, you are not to wait for the word of command from 
me. I will show you, by my example, how to fight ; I can undertake 
no more. Every man must consider himself an officer and act from 


his own judgment. Fire as quick as you can, and stand your ground 
as long as you can. When you can do no better, get behind trees 
or retreat; but I beg you not to run quite off. If we are repulsed, 
let us make a point of returning and renewing the fight; perhaps we 
may have better luck in the second attempt than in the first. 

The plateau upon which Ferguson was encamped was the 
top of an eminence about six hundred yards long and about 
two hundred and fifty from one base across to the other ; and 
its shape was that of an Indian paddle, varying from one 
hundred and twenty yards at the blade to sixty yards at the 
handle in width. Outcropping boulders upon the outer edge 
of the plateau afforded some slight shelter for Ferguson's 
force; but^ unsuspicious of the coming attack, Ferguson had 
made no abatis to protect his camp from the attack to 
which it was so vulnerable from the cover of the timber sur- 
rounding it on all sides. In taking their positions, the cen- 
ter to the I^orth-East was occupied b}' Cleveland with his 
Bulldogs, Hambright with his South Fork Boysv, from the 
Catawba (now Lincoln County, ISTorth Carolina), and Win- 
ston with his Surry Riflemen; to the South were the divi- 
sions under Joseph McDowell (brother of Charles) who was 
in touch with Winston, Sevier and Campbell ; while the South 
Carolinians under Lacey, who was in touch with Cleveland, 
the Rowan levies under Williams, and the Watauga borderers 
under Shelby were stationed upon the ISTorth side. FergTi- 
son's force consisted of Provincial Rangers, one hundred and 
fifty strong, and of well drilled loyalists, between eight and 
nine hundred, seriously weakened by the absence of a forag- 
ing party of between one and two hundred who had gone off 
on the morning the battle occurred. Shelby's men, before 
getting into position, received a hot fire, the opening shots of 
the engagement — which inspired Campbell, who now threw 
oif his coat, to shout encouraging orders to his men, posted on 
the side of the mountain opposite to Shelby's force. When 
Campbell's Virginians uttered a series of piercing shouts, De 


Peyster, second in command, remarked to his chief: "These 
things are ominous — these are the damned yelling boys," 

The battle, which lasted some minutes short of an hour, 
was waged with terrific ferocity. The loyalist militia, where- 
ever possible, fired from the shelter of the rocks ; while the 
Provincial Corps, with fixed bayonets, steadily charged the 
frontiersmen, who fired at close range and rapidly withdrew 
to the very base of the mountain. After each bayonet charge, 
the Provincials coolly withdrew to the summit, under the ac- 
cumulating fire of the returning mountaineers, who quickly 
gathered in their rear. Owing to their elevation, the British, 
although using the rapid-fire breech-loading rifle invented by 
Ferguson himself, found their vision deflected, continually 
firing high ; and thus suffered nature's handicap, refraction. ^^ 
The militia, using sharpened butcher knives which Ferg-uson 
taught them to utilize as bayonets, charged against the moun- 
taineers; but their fire, in answer to the deadly fusillade of 
the expert squirrel shooters, was belated, owing to the fact 
that they could not fire so long as the crudely improvised 
bayonets remained in their pieces. The Americans, contin- 
ually firing upward, found ready marks for their aim in the 
clearly delineated outlines of their adversaries ; and felt the 
exultation which animates the hunter who has tracked to his 
lair and entrapped wild game at bay. 

The leaders of the various divisions of the mountaineers 
bore themselves with impetuous bravery, recklessly exposing 
themselves between the lines of fire and with native eloquence, 
interspersed with mild profanity, rallying their individual 
commands, from end to end, once more to the attack. Camp- 
bell scaled the rugged heights, encouraging his men to the 
ascent. Cleveland resolutely facing the foe, rallied his bull- 
dogs with the inspiriting words: "Come, boys, let's try 'em 
again. We'll have better luck next time." The most deadly 
charge, led by De Peyster himself, fell upon Hambright's 
South Fork boys ; and Major Chronicle, waving his military 

20F. Brevard McDowell : The Battle of King's Mountain. 


hat, fell dead, the command, "Face to the hill !" dying upon 
his lips. These veteran soldiers met the shock of the charge ; 
a number of their men were shot down or transfixed, and 
the remainder^ reserving their fire until the charging column 
was only a few feet away^ poured in a deadly volley before 
retiring. William Lenoir, independently fighting in Wins- 
ton's column, was in the forefront of the hottest battle, his 
reckless bravery making him a veritable target for the 
enemy. He received several wounds and his hair and his 
clothes were riddled with bullets. The ranking American 
officer. Brigadier General James - Williams, was mortally 
wounded on the ''vei*y top of the mountain, in the thickest 
of the fight" ; and as he revived for a moment, an eye-wit- 
ness relates^ his first words were: "For Grod's sake, boys, 
don't give up the hill." Hambright, sorely wounded, his 
boot overflowing with blood and his hat riddled with three 
bullet holes, declined to dismount, but pressed gallantly for- 
ward, exclaiming in his "Pennsylvania Dutch" : "Huzza, my 
prave poys, fight on a few minutes more, and te pattle will 
be over!" On the British side Fergnison was supremely 
brave, rapidly dashing from one side to the other, oblivious 
to all danger. Wherever the shrill note of his silver whistle 
sounded, there the fighting was hottest and the British resist- 
ance deadliest. His officers fought with the characteristic 
steadiness of the British soldier, and again and again charged 
headlong against the wavering circle of the frontiersmen.^^ 

Ferguson's authentic boast — that "he was on King's Moun- 
tain, that he was king of the mountain and that God Almighty 
could not drive him from it" — was doubtless prompted, less 
by belief in the impregnability of his position, than by a 
desire to inspire confidence in his men. His position was 
admirably chosen for defense against attack by troops employ- 
ing regulation tactics ; but never dreaming of the possibility 
of sudden investment, Ferguson had erected no defenses for 

2iForerunners of the Republic : "Isaac Shelby," Neale's Monthly, March. 


his encampment. The disesteem in which he held the moun- 
taineers found expression in the passionate declaration: "I 
will never surrender to such damned banditti as the mountain 
men." His frenzied efforts on the battle-field seem like a 
mad rush against fate; for his position was indefensible 
against the peculiar tactics of the frontiersmen. While the 
mountain flamed like a volcano and resounded with the thun- 
der of the guns, a steady stricture was in progTess ; the lines 
were drawn tighter and tighter around the trapped and fran- 
tically struggling army; and at last the fall of their com- 
mander, riddled with bullets, proved the mad futility of fur- 
ther resistance. The game was caught and bagged to a man. 
When Winston with his fox-hunters of Surry dashed reck- 
lessly through the woods, says a chronicler of the battle, and 
•''the last to come into position: 


'Flow'd in, and settling, circled all the lists,' 

'From all the circle of the hills 
Death sleeted in upon the doomed.' "'^ 

In reviewing the details of the battle, especial interest 
attaches here to everything which concerns Isaac Shelby. In 
a contemporary letter to his father, he gives the following 
terse account of the battle : 

That Providence who always rules and governs all things for the 
best, so ordered it that we were around them before we were discov- 
ered, and formed in such position, so as to fire on them nearly 
about (sic) the same time, though they heard us in time to form and 
stood ready. The battle continued warm for an hour ; the enemy 
finding themselves so embarassed on all sides, surrendered them- 
selves prisoners to us at discretion. 

They had taken post at that place with the confidence that no force 
could rout them ; the mountain was high, and exceedingly steep, so 

22J. W. de Peyster : "The Affair at King's Mountain." Reprinted from The 
Magazine of American History, Dec, 1880. Cf. also the same writer's sketch : 
"The Battle or Affair of King's Mountain," 1881. These give the extreme 
British view. 


that their situation gave them greatly the advantage; indeed it was 
almost equal to storming a battery. In most cases we could not see 
them until we were within twenty yards of them. They repelled us 
three times with charged bayonets ; but being determined to conquer 
or die, we came up a fourth time, and fairly got possession of the top 
of the mountain.^ 

The final general order to the mountain men, before the 
engagement, was eloquent of thei general determination: 
"Fresh prime your giins, and every man go into battle firmly 
resolved to fight till he dies !" 

"The enemy," says Robert Campbell, "annoyed our troops 
very much from their advantageous position. Col. Shelby, 
being previously ordered to reconnoitre their position, observ- 
ing their situation, and what a destructive fire was kept up 
from those rocks, ordered Robert Campbell, one of the offi- 
cers of the Virginia Line, to move to the right with a small 
company to endeavor to dislodge them, and lead them on 
nearly to the ground which he had ordered them, under fire 
of the enemy's lines and within forty steps of the same; but 
discovering that our men were repulsed on the other side of 
the mountain, he gave orders to advance, and post themselves 
opposite to the rocks, and near to thei enemy, and then re- 
turned to assist in bringing up the men in order, who had 
been charged with the bayonet. These orders were punc- 
tually obeyed, and they kept up such a galling fire as to com- 
pel Ferguson to order a company of regulars to face them, 
with a view to cover his men that were posted behind the rocks. 
At this time a considerable fire was drawn to this side of 
the mountain by the repulse of those on the other, and the 
Loyalists not being permitted to leave their posts. This 
scene was not of long duration, for it was the brave Virginia 
volunteers, and those under Col. Shelby, on their attempting 
rapidly to ascend the mountain, that were charged with the 
bayonet. They obstinately stood until some of them were 
thrust through the body, and having nothing but their rifies 
by which to defend themselves, they were forced to retreat. 

'^Virginia Gazette, Nov. 4, 1780. 


They were soon rallied by their gallant eomnianders, Camp- 
hell, Shelby, and other brave officers, and by a constant and 
well-directed fire of their rifles, drove them back in their turn, 
strewing the face of the mountain with their assailants, and 
kept advancing until they drove them from some of their 
posts."^* Shelby's men, by his own statement, actually 
reached the summit of the mountain which ' Vas covered with 
flame and smoke and seemed to thunder."^^ 

The regiments of Shelby and Campbell began the attack; 
and the enemy first fired upon Shelby's men before they were 
in position. This galling fire distressed the mountaineers, 
who were heard to mutter that "it would never do to be shot 
down without returning the fire." To which the intrepid 
Shelby cooly replied : "Pass on to your places, and then your 
fire will not be lost."^® Bancroft says : "Shelby, a man of the 
hardiest make, stiff as iron, among the dauntless singled out 
for dauntlessness, went right onward and upward like a man 
who had but one thing to do, and but one thought — to do it." 
Brave as he and his men were, says Draper, they, too, had to 
retreat before the charging column, but firing as they retired. 
When, at the bottom of the hill, Shelby wanted to bring his 
men to order, he would cry out — "Now, boys, quickly reload 
your rifles, and give them another hell of a fire."^^ 

Throughout the entire battle, Shelby's inspiriting battle- 
3ry was : "ISTever shoot until you see an enemy, and never see 
an enemy without bringing him down."^^ 

Shelby was in the very front line of the fight from the 
outset of the engagement to its very close. "When the 
British were loudly calling for quarters, but uncertain 
whether they would be granted," says Benjamin Sharp^ "I 
saw the intrepid Shelby rush his horse within fifteen paces of 
their lines, and commanded them to lay down their arms, and 
they should have quarters. Some would call this an impru- 

^Annals of the Army of Tennessee, Oct., 1878. 

^Haywood's Tennessee. 

28Foote's Sketches of North Carolina (Graham's Sketch), p. 268. 

^MS. statement of Gen. Thomas Love, derived from Captain David Vance. 

28Nile's National Register, iv. 403. 


dent act, but it shows the daring bravery of the man."^^ As 
the demoralized Tories continued to cry "Quarters! Quar- 
ters!," Shelby fiercely shouted: "Damn you! If you want 
quarters, throw down your arms!" In a letter written by 
John Sevier to Isaac Shelby (Aug. 2Y, 1812), we read: "You 
were in the heat of the action. I frequently saw you ani- 
mating your men to victory. At the surrender, you were the 
first field officer I recollect to have seen. ... I per- 
fectly recollect on seeing you at the close of the action, that 

I swore by they had burnt off your hair, for it was much 

burnt on one side." 

Owing to the volley fired upon the victors by a returning 
foraging party of the British, a fire which killed the daring 
General James Williams, the incensed Americans under 
Campbell's orders returned the fire, though the British had 
already surrendered. This created a very alarming situation, 
and Shelby, who feared that the enemy might yet, perhaps, 
snatch up their arms in self-defense and resume the battle^ ex- 
claimed: "Good God! What can we do in the confusion?" 
"We can order the prisoners from their arms," said Captain 
Sawyers. "Yes," responded Shelby, "that can be done" ; and 
the prisoners were accordingly marched off, and placed under 
a strong guard. 

Ferguson was mortally wounded near the close of the 
action; and as he was being carried off, the exultant Shelby 
rode up and with incredible callousness said to him, though 
doubtless life was then totally extinct : "Colonel, the fatal 
blow is struck — we've Burgoyned you."^^ In the division of 
Ferguson's effects, the foot-long silver whistle, the piercing 
note of which had been heard again and again above the 
clamor and din of the battle, fell to Shelby's lot. 

According to expert military opinion, the plan of attack 
employed by the Americans was probably the only method 
of assault by which the British could have been defeated. 
Impartial examination of all the evidence available, which 

^American Pioneer, Feb., 1843. 

*0Related by Thos. H. Spelts and Thomas H. Shelby, a son of the Colonel. 


includes much material not accessible to Draper, leads to the 
conclusion that the chief credit for inaugurating the entire 
campaign belongs to Shelby. The nominal leadership was 
conferred upon Campbell ; and among the reasons, not already 
mentioned, assigned for giving him the chief command, were 
that he commanded the largest division of the forces and had 
come from the greatest distance. In the battle the conditions 
of combat enabled him to do little more than lead the men of 
his own division ; and this he did with conspicuous bravery 
and gallantry. It is scarcely to be doubted that the very 
tactics pursued in the battle, the only tactics it would seem 
which could have been successful, were outlined, not by 
Campbell, but by Shelby himself. The following significant 
lines, from a letter written to Shelby by Colonel John Sevier, 
from Marble Springs, Tennessee, August 27, 1812, are elo- 
quent on the point : — 

As to the plan of attacking the enemy, yourself was the only person 
that named the mode to me, and the same was acceded to unani- 
mously. No doubt you recollect we argued on the manner of attack 
immediately after Ferguson's spies were taken, while we were a little 
in front of our army, and as we were returning back to Campbell and 
the other offlcers.^^ 


A digression from the continuity of the narrative is neces- 
sary at this point, in order to bring to light valuable docu- 
ments, hitherto unpublished, which throw into truer perspec- 
tive the role played by Shelby in the King's Mountain cam- 
paign. They tend to correct some of the false impressions 
fostered by Roosevelt and, to a lesser degree, by Draper. 

On February 11, 1781, the North Carolina State Senate, 
in session at Halifax, placed the following on record : — 

Resolved, That the Speaker of this House be requested, with the 
Speaker of the Commons, to transmit to Colonel Campbell, of Vlr- 

si"Hero of Three Wars," by C. H. Todd, in Journal of American History, 
2nd number, 2nd volume, 1908. These lines from Sevier's letter have been 
omitted generally by historians, even by Draper in King's Mountain and Its 
Heroes (pp. 575-6). Such an omission is almost inexplicable. 


glnia, Colonel Cleveland, Colonel Shelby, and the brave Officei's and 
Soldiers under their command the following address, to wit: 

Gentlemen : 

The General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, impressed 
with a deep sense of your eminent services during the last Summer's 
Campaign have unanimously resolved that the Speakers of the two 
Houses should transmit to you their warmest acknowledgments for 
your spirited and vigorous Exertions against the formidable body of 
British Forces under Major Ferguson at King's Mountain. The alac- 
rity with which you stepped forth uncalled for by Authority, your 
Vigilance in Marching to, and your conduct in, the attack of the 
Enemy, deserve the highest Encomiums, and strongly mark Patriot- 
ism and Heroism united in the same persons. To these Virtues, 
which you, Gentlemen, so happily possess, your Country is indebted 
for the important Victory which frustrated the schemes of the enemy, 
awed many of the disaffected into submission, and rescued the west- 
ern parts of this State from devastation and ruin and the horrors 
attendant on a War directed by Tyranny and pursued with vindic- 
tive Resentment. 

We do therefore ia obedience to the order of the two Houses and 
with the highest satisfaction to ourselves transmit to you the thanks 
of your country by its representatives in General Assembly. 

Ordered that the foregoing Address with the following Message be 
sent the Commons for concurrence. 

Me. Speaker and Gentlemen : 

We send for your approbation an address proposed by this House 
to be presented the officers who distinguished themselves in the cap- 
ture of the British, commanded by Major Ferguson, at King's Moun- 

Resolved, that an elegant mounted sword be presented to each of 
the following officers, that is to say, Colo. Cleveland, of Wilkes 
County, Colonel Campbell of Virginia, Colonel Shelby of Sullivan 
County, Lieutenant Colonel Sevier of Washington County, Lieutenant 
Colonel Hambright of Lincoln County, Major Winston of Surry 
County and Major Shelby of Sullivan County for their voluntary and 
distinguished services in the defeat of Major Ferguson at the battle 
of King's Mountain. 

An extraordinary series of blunders, whicli to this day liave 
remained unexplained, now took place in connection with 
the "resolution" above-mentioned. The original journal of 
the assembly, as well as the printed copy, contains a message 
from the House to the Senate, approving of the "address" 


above-mentioned; but nowhere in the original journal is rec- 
ord or even mention made of any action taken by the House 
upon the Senate "resolution" concerning the swords. That 
no steps were taken to procure and present the swords men- 
tioned in the resolution was doubtless due to the fact that the 
journal contained no record of the joint concurrence of 
House and Senate in this "resolution" ; and consequently no 
committee was appointed to carry out the terms of the "reso- 
lution." Shelby and Sevier both believed that the swords had 
been voted them by the Assembly. ^^ 

The question which remains unanswered until the present 
day is : "Did the Legislature of ISTorth Carolina in February, 
1781, vote the swords to Shelby, Sevier, Winston, and the 
others mentioned in the 'resolution' ?" The original manu- 
script of the "resolution" itself, still preserved, and now in 
the Archives of the l^orth Carolina Historical Commission, 
conclusively shows that the swords were thus voted. Upon it 
are inscribed the following: — 

In the H Commons 11 Feby 1781 
Concurred with 
By order 

Jno Hunt C H C 

and the endorsement: 

llth Feby laid over til Tomorrow morning. 

The "resolution" was "laid over" until February 12, 
awaiting action upon the "address" ; and the "address," bear- 
ing the approval of the House, was received by the Sen- 
ate on February 13. The explanation of the blunder is 
probably due to the careless reading of the secretary who 
compiled the journal in failing to note, and so, to record, that 
the "address" and the "resolution" were two different things 
and that hoth had been concurred with by the House. 

^^N. C. State Records, xvii, 696-7, 704, support the statements made above. 
In his Annals of Tennessee, 248, Ramsey is in error in stating that the General 
Assembly of North Carolina in 1781 "passed a resolution that a sword and 
pistols should be presented to both Shelby and Sevier." As printed in the 
N. C. State Records, xvii, 697, "Lewis" is a misprint for "Sevier." 


Shortly after the battle of King's Mountain^ the General 
Assembly of Virginia "ordered that a good horse, with el&- 
gant furniture, and a sword" be presented to William Camp- 
bell. ^^ Singularly enough, Virginia like ISTorth Carolina 
was inexplicably dilatory in carrying out the will of the Gen- 
eral Assembly. At the instance of friends of the late Wil- 
liam Campbell, the General Assembly of Virginia in 1809, it 
appears, caused a handsome and costly sword, purchased in 
France, to be presented to William Campbell Preston, Wil- 
liam Campbell's grandson. 

When this information reached Shelby in 1809, It pro- 
duced, as he acknowledges, "some feelings of emulation and 
solicitude, and a sense that equal justice had not been done 
to all who participated in that memorable achievement." 
Accordingly, he engaged in private correspondence with John 
Sevier on the subject ; and years afterwards frankly acknowl- 
edged that the object of the letters was "to concert with him 
(Sevier) the means of reminding JSTorth Carolina of her 
ancient promise, and of obtaining those swords which thirty 
years before had been voted to us, as the honorable memorials 
of our good conduct, and our country's approbation." Shelby 
confessed to his very natural sense of the injustice in the 
recognition of Campbell, while Sevier and himself remained 
unrecognized. ^* 


During the political campaign of 1812, when Shelby was 
making the race for the governorship of Kentucky, false- 
hoods were freely circulated against him, minimizing the part 
he played in the King's Mountain campaign. To meet these 
charges, an article signed "ISTarrator" appeared in the Keiv- 
tucky Reporter, July 25, 1812, giving undue credit to Shelby 
as leader of the King's Mountain campaign and casting un- 
worthy aspersions upon the bravery of Colonel Campbell. 
The article was replied to in the same paper, of June 20, 

s^Summers : Southxoest Virginia, 337-9. 

*^See Governor Shelby's pamphlet : "Battle of King's Mountain." 


1813, by William C. Preston, who made a spirited vindication 
of the charge of cowardice preferred against his grandfather. 
I^ine years later, the controversy broke forth anew, when 
Colonel George Washington Sevier caused to be published in 
the Nashville Gazette four private letters written to his 
father, John Sevier, by Isaac Shelby. In one of these let- 
ters, (January 1, 1810), Shelby makes the damaging charge: 

It is a fact well known, and for which he (Campbell) apologized 
to me the day after the action, that he was not within less than one 
quarter of a mile of the enemy at the time they surrendered to you 
and myself. 

This brought forth from William C. Preston another state- 
ment in the newspapers of the day, entitled "Colonel Camp- 
bell and Governor Shelby," claiming the chief honors of the 
victory at King's Mountain for his grandfather, and vehe- 
mently repelling the insinuation of cowardice contained in 
Shelby's private letter to Sevier, lately given to the public by 
G. W. Sevier. 

An elaborate survey and investigation of the whole ques- 
tion was then made by Shelby and published as a pamphlet 
in 1823.^^ Extended replies to this pamphlet were made: 
by William C. Preston in the Telescope of Columbia, S. C, 
May 10, 1823, and by General John Campbell in the 
Enquirer of Richmond, Va., June 24, 1823. This pro- 
longed and regrettable controversy had certain important con- 
sequences, and resulted in establishing certain cardinal facts 
touching the conduct of Campbell, Shelby and Sevier. Camp- 
bell's fame remained entirely undimmed by the charges of 
Shelby, who, clearly, had misinterpreted a remark made by 
Campbell on the battle-field; and furthermore Shelby was 
utterly misled, through the fact that Campbell's body servant 
rode his horse during the battle, into the belief that Campbell 
remained in the rear during the action. The credit for initi- 
ating the campaign, it was clearly established, belonged to 
Shelby, who acted in concert with Sevier. There is no reason 

^^Appendix to Draper's King's Mountain and Its Heroes, 560-582. 


to doubt that Shelby was entirely honest in believing the 
charges, however "unworthy and untrue, which he preferred 
against Campbell. 

In his article in the Telescope, Wm. C. Preston published 
an affidavit of Colonel Matthew Willoughby, in which he dis- 
credited the testimony of Moses Shelby^ brother of Isaac, who 
had testified in the Shelby pamphlet (1823) that during the 
latter half of the battle of King's Mountain, Campbell re- 
mained stationary near the foot of the mountain, in plain 
sight of him. Colonel Willoughby deputed that "the statement 
of Moses Shelby would not, perhaps, be credited, from the 
character he bore about the time and after the battle, as he, 
with others, was engaged in plundering in the Carolinas, both 
Whigs and Tories, and running the property so plundered to 
this side of the mountains." 

The following letter from Isaac Shelby to John J. Critten- 
den, famous Kentuckian, who had been Shelby's Aide-de^ 
camp on the Canadian campaign in the War of 1812, is im- 
portant as giving valuable evidence, not only concerning the 
character of Moses Shelby, but also in regard to the battle of 
King's Mountain. It was evidently not seen by Draper, or 
by Roosevelt, who accepts, apparently without question, the 
charges against Moses Shelby. 

Danville, June IGth, 1823. 

My Deae Sie, — You have no doubt before this seen the replies of 
both General Preston and his son to my publication. Colonel Preston 
proposes to establish for his own father the merit of planning the 
exi)edition which led to Ferguson's defeat. 

I have examined the subject in my own mind in every point of 
view, and cannot in the remotest manner discover wherein General 
Preston could have had any agency in this exploit. I lived nearly 
one hundred and twenty miles from him, in a different State, and had 
no kind of communication with him on the subject, and from every 
recollection, I am convinced that the statement I gave you is indis- 
putably true. I recollect, however, that Major Oloyd, with three hun- 
dred men from the county of Montgomery, commanded by Colonel 
Preston, fought an action with the Tories at the shallow ford of the 
Yadkin River, nearly one hundred miles north of King's Mountain, 
about two weeks after the defeat of Ferguson. It has always been 
a mystery to me as to Cloyd's destination, or that of the enemy whom 


he encountered. I have only understood that they met accidentally 
in the road, and that the enemy was composed of the enemies in 
the neighborhood, and of the Bryants, of Kentucky, some of whom 
were killed in the fight. 

If Ferguson was Cloyd's object, he was too weak to effect anything, 
and besides. Lord Cornwallis, with the British army, lay directly in 
the route between them. My convictions are so clear on this point 
I have no fear that General Preston can render my statement doubt- 
ful. He proposes, too, to invalidate the testimony of Moses Shelby. 
I will, for your own satisfaction, give you a short sketch of his his- 
tory. Moses was in his nineteenth year when he left his father's 
house to join the expedition against Ferguson and had never before, 
to my knowledge, been more than forty miles from home. It is well 
known that our march was too rapid for a youth of that age to tres- 
pass in any manner, the army having marched two or three hundred 
miles, and fought the battle in twelve days, three of which we were 
detained on the road from different causes. Moses was severely 
wounded at the Mountain, and the bone of one thigh being fractured, 
he could be carried but a short distance from the battle-ground, where 
he lay on his back nearly three months, and was only able to ride 
out a few days before General Morgan came up into the district of 
Ninety-Six. He joined Morgan but a day or two before the battle 
of the Cowpens, on the 17th of January, 1781. Here he was wounded 
more severely than at the Mountain, and lay, until March or April, 
under the hands of a surgeon. When Colonel Clarke, of Georgia, 
came on with his followers to commence the siege of Augusta, his 
wounds were still sore and open, but at the warm solicitations of 
Clarke, Moses joined the expedition, and was appointed Captain of 
horse. It is well known that the siege lasted until May or June fol- 
lowing, in which Moses was actively engaged, and Clarke asserted 
to many that he made several charges on the enemy, who sallied dur- 
ing the siege, which would have done honor to Count Pulaski. 
Moses returned home shortly after the siege, and never crossed the 
mountains again during the war. The next year, 1782, he, with other 
adventurers, went to the new settlements, then forming where Nash- 
ville now stands, where he continued off and on until he married, 
two or three years afterwards. As the settlements progressed down 
the Cumberland, he was always among the foremost of the pioneers. 
He finally settled in what is now called Livingston County, Kentucky, 
where at the unanimous solicitation of the inhabitants, he was 
appointed colonel of the new county, about the year 1793. He had the 
command for a number of years. And after the acquisition of Louisi- 
ana, he removed to that territory, and now resides on the west side 
of the Mississippi, two miles below New Madrid, covered VTith the 
scars of thirteen deep wounds, received in defence of his country, for 
which he is too proud to receive a pension, always disdaining to 
apply for one. In his youth he was of a warm and ardent disposition, 


always ready to risk his life for a friend, and profuse of his property 
(of which he had a considerable inheritance), even to a fault. It 
would exceed the bounds of a letter to give you a statement of the 
many hair-breadth escapes and imminent dangers through which 
he passed. Soon after his marriage, he became impressed with 
religious sentiments, joined the Methodist Church, liberated his slaves, 
and, so far as I know and believe, has always supported a good 
character in that county. 

It is possible, while at the South, in 1780-81, from his ardent dis- 
position and the prevailing excitement of the times, that he may in 
some cases have acted imprudently. The war between the Whigs and 
Tories was carried on with the utmost rancor and malice, each 
endeavoring to do the greatest injury to the other. 

Colonel Willoughby, whose affidavit has been published, swears to 
no point. He lived three hundred miles from the scene of action, and 
his information may have been very erroneous. 

If, however. General Preston proves apparently anything more, he 
shall be answered. 

I have made this hasty sketch for your own satisfaction. 

I remain, dear Sir, very respectfully, your friend, 

Isaac Shelby. 

John J. Crittenden.^* 


After their exchanges of letters in 1810, Shelby and Sevier, 
throwing conventional modesty to the winds, prepared a joint 
memorial to the General Assembly of IsTorth Carolina. This 
was presented by the Senator from Surry, Joseph Winston, on 
December 15, 1812, of which the following record is found : 

Mr. Winston presented the memorial of Issac (sic) Shelby and 
John Sevier, setting forth that in consideration of public services 
rendered during our revolutionary war, and particularly for their 
conduct at the battle of King's Mountain, the Legislature of the State 
of North Carolina, in the year 1781, did vote each of the memorialists 
an elegant sword and pair of pistols, which they have not heretofore 
applied for or received ; and they pray that this testimonial of the 
approbation of the state for their conduct be now complied with. 
This memorial being read, was referred to the committee of Proposi- 
tions and Grievances, and sent to the House of Commons.'^ 

The matter was later referred to a special committee con- 
sisting of Messrs. Porter and W. W. Jones on the part of the 

3«Mrs. C. Coleman : The Life of John J. Crittenden, v, 56-8 (1871). 
arsenate Journal, 1812. 


House, and Messrs. Atkinson and Graston on the part of the 
Senate. On December 22, 1812, Mr. Gaston submitted an 
extended report after investigation, in wbicli it is stated: 

Your committee find, upon an examination of the journal of the 
House of Commons, that the proposed address obtained the approba- 
tion and concurrence of the house ; but they do not find any determi- 
nation relative to the second resolution of the Senate, nor any minute 
that such resolution had been received by them. Your committee, 
however, have been informed, and so believe, that the House of Com- 
mons did concur with the Senate in this latter resolution, as well as 
in that for presenting to their patriots and heroes the thanks of the 

In order to pay what Gaston describes as "the long pro- 
crastinated debt of gTatitude and honor," the House and Sen- 
ate unanimously passed the following : — 

Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor be requested to procure 
three elegant swords, such as in his estimation is (sic) not unworthy 
of North Carolina to bestow, on those who have distinguished claims 
on the gratitude of her citizens ; and that he cause them severally to 
be presented, in the name of this State, to General Isaac Shelby, of 
Kentucky, General John Sevier of Tennessee, and Colonel Joseph 
Winston of this State, the three surviving chiefs of the gallant band 
who fought and conquered at King's Mountain, on the memorable 7th 
of October, 1780.=» 

In carrying out the resolution, Governor William Haw- 
kins enlisted the services of the Hon. James Turner, at that 
time representing l!^orth Carolina in the United States Sen- 
ate. At the instance of Mr. Turner, the swords were pur- 
chased in jSTew York by Mr. Robert Walker of Petersburg, 
assisted by Colonel Swift. The swords thus procured, accord- 
ing to instruction, were "in point of elegance inferior to none 
that can be procured." The sword presented to Shelby, with 
which the others were identical save for name, bore upon 

s^Senate Journal. It seems extraordinary that a man of Gaston's legislative 
experience should have omitted to examine the original manuscript of the Sen- 
ate resolution of February 11, 1781, which would have resolved all his doubts. 

^Ht is a source of lasting regret that another regrettable oversight was made 
at this time. A fourth leader in the King's Mountain campaign whose name 
was included in the original resolution, was Lieutenant Colonel Hambright, of 
Lincoln County, who survived until March, 1817. Grave injustice was done, 
in that no sword was presented to Lieutenant Colonel Hambright in 1813. 


one side of the hilt the inscription: "King's Mountain — Oc- 
tober 7, 1Y80/' upon the other: "State of ITorth Carolina to 
Colonel Isaac Shelby." Writing to Governor Hawkins from 
Warren County on September 19, 1813, the Hon. James Tur- 
ner says concerning these swords : "The one for Col. Shelby 
was forwarded through the politeness if Mr. Clay, the 
Speaker of the House of Representatives. The one for Col. 
Savier (sic) was delivered to him by myself (he being in 
Washington). The one for Col. Winston was forwarded to 
him by Mr. Yancey, one of the members of Congress from 
this State. The letters of the Grentlemen was (sic) delivered 
and forwarded by the same Gentlemen who took charge of 
the swords."*^ 

The following letter, just referred to, was sent to Isaac 
Shelby, then Governor of Kentucky, by Governor William 
Hawkins of l^orth Carolina.*^ 

Executive Office, N. C. 

Raleigh 17th, July 1813. 

SiK, In compliance with a resolution of the General Assembly of 
this State passed at their last Session I have the honor of tendering 
you the sword which this letter accompanies as a testimony of the 
distinguished claim you have on the gratitude of the State for your 
gallantry in achieving with your brothers in arms the glorious victory 
over the British forces commanded by Colo. Ferguson at the battle of 
King's Mountain on the memorable 7th of October 1780. This tribute 
of respect though bestowed at a protracted period, will not be con- 
sidered the less honorable on that account when you are informed 
that it is in unison with a resolution of the General Assembly passed 
in the year 1781, which from some cause not well ascertained, it is to 
be regretted was not complied with. 

Permit me Sir, to make you an expression of the high gratification 
felt by me at being the favored instrument to present to you in the 
name of the State of North Carolina, this testimonial of gratitude — 
this meed of valour, and to remark, that contending as we are at the 
present time with the same foe for our just rights the pleasing hope 
may be entertained that the valorous deeds of the heroes of our 

^Governor Hawkins' Letter Book, 1812-3, 429. For assistance in making 
these researches, I am indebted to Mr. R. D. W. Connor, Secretary of the N. C. 
Historical Commission. 

*iAn exact transcript of the same letter was likewise transmitted to General 
John Sevier, of Tennessee, and Colonel Joseph Winston, of North Carolina. 
Cf. Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, pp. 248-254, and "The Life and Times of 
Major Joseph Winston," by G. T. Winston (Guilford Battleground Company, 


Revolution will animate the Soldier of the existing War and nerve 
his arm in laudable emulation to like achievements. 

I beg you to accept an assurance of the great consideration and 
respect with which, 

I have the honor to be 

Your obedient Servent 

William Hawkins.*^ 

This recognition on tlie part of l^ortli Carolina, iitly 
enougli, came with dramatic emphasis at a moment of crisis 
in the career of Grovemor Shelby and of the State of Ken- 
tucky. In his memorable oration^ delivered at Lexington, 
Kentucky, on August 15, 1826, the Hon. William Taylor 
Barry thus described the event : 

Colonel Shelby was at his residence in Lincoln County, enjoying in 
affluence, the sweets of domestic life, when he was again called upon 
to assume the helm of State. At the advanced age of 63, had he 
wanted an apology, this was an ample one ; but his mind was char- 
acterized by constancy and invincible firmness. He saw his beloved 
country, for whose independence he had fought in his youth, again 
in imminent danger, assailed by the same inveterate foe. The fire 
of patriotism rekindled in his bosom, he did not hesitate, but aban- 
doning the allurements of ease, and listening only to the voice of 
honor, we see him again with youthful ardour, entering upon the 
executive duties, boldly hazarding his reputation in the contingencies 
of a war, the glorious results of which were yet in the womb of time. 
The volunteers from Kentucky who had gone forth to battle, notwith- 
standing the bravery and good conduct of their officers, had met with 
sad reverses. The di-eadful defeats at the River Raisin, and the 
Rapids of the Miami, had deprived our State of many gallant and 
patriotic citizens, and filled the country with mourning ; the cruelties 
practised by the savage allies of England, and countenanced by the 
British officers, was the cause of deep and powerful excitement ; the 
public indignation was aroused and our militia, anxious to revenge 
their slaughtered countrymen, were impatient to be led to battle. 
Shelby thought the time had arrived to put an end to the contest in 
that quarter, and resolved to take the field in person. As he was 
preparing for the campaign, a happy incident occurred. The deliv- 
ery of the sword voted him by the Legislature of North Carolina in 
1781, had, from some cause, been delayed, and was handed to him 

*2From the Letter Book of Governor William Hawkins, 1812-1813, pp. 291-2. 
Collections of the North Carolina Historical Commission. For a copy of this 
letter I am indebted to Mr. R. D. W. Connor, Secretary of the N. C. Historical 
Commission. The letter to General Sevier, the duplicate of the present letter, 
is printed in Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, 249. 


just in time to be used in acquiring fresh laurels. Proud emblem of 
victory — glorious remembrancer of tbe gallantry and heroism of two 

In the marcli to Lake Erie and Canada^ tlie famous hero of 
tlie Revolution not without deep emotions of pride and reli- 
gious fervor, "wore upon his thigh a sword just presented to 
him by Henry Clay, in the name of the State of ]S[orth Caro- 
lina, in testimony of appreciation of his services in the old 
war for independence."** 

With the sword was tendered the following letter to Shelby 

from Henry Clay: 

Lexington, 22d August, 1813. 
My dear Sir, — I have seen by the public prints that you intend lead- 
ing a detachment from this state. As you will want a sword, I have 
the pleasure to inform you that I am charged by Governor Turner 
and Mr. Macon with delivering to you that which the State of North 
Carolina voted you in testimony of the sense it entertained of your 
conduct at King's Mountain. I would take it with me to Frankfort, 
in order that I might personally execute the commission and at the 
same time have the gratification of seeing you, if I were not excess- 
ively oppressed with fatigue. I shall not fail, however, to avail 
myself of the first safe conveyance, and if any should offer to you, 
I will thank you to inform me. May it acquire additional lustre in 
the patriotic and hazardous enterprise in which you are embarking ! 

Your friend, 

H. Clay. 

The bearer of the letter and the sword was a common friend, 
William T. Barry, quoted above, who delivered them to Gov- 
ernor Shelby at Frankfort. 

The venerable soldier, with his characteristic energy once 
again taking the field in defense of the liberties of his country, 
in acknowledgment of the gift of !N^orth Carolina wrote the 
following interesting letter, hitherto unpublished, to the Gov- 
ernor of N^orth Carolina. 

^"On the Death of Adams, Jefferson and Sheloy," in Year Book, 1913, of 
Kentucky Society Sons of the Revolution. Barry had been Secretary and Aide- 
de-Camp to General Shelby on the expedition to Canada in 1813 ; and after- 
wards became very distinguished in the public life of Kentucky. At one time 
he was Postmaster General in President Jackson's cabinet. 

**B. J. Lossing : Field Book of the War of 1812, 544-5. 



Government House Frankfort Kentucky. 
August 26th, 1813. 
Sib, On the 23d inst. I had the honor of receiving your letter of 
the 17th ulto. tendering to me, a Sword vphich accompanied it, 
bestowed by North Carolina as a testimony of the flattering senti- 
ments which she entertained in relation to my conduct in the affair of 
the 7th of October 1780 on King's Mountain. 

Engaged as my beloved country then was in a struggle for every 
thing dear to man, she had a right to expect the zealous exertions 
of her citizens in her behalf. Devoted to the cause of my country, 
impelled by a high sense of the obligations, I owed her, and by an 
utter aversion to the tyranny wliich was endeavouring to oppress 
her, I freely participated in those exertions which lead to, & that 
conflict which terminated so favorable to our arms, & evidently gave 
a favorable turn to the Revolutionary War, and in relation to wliich 
the Legislature of North Carolina have been pleased to express them- 
selves in a manner the most flattering to my feelings. 

If the freeborn sons of America wanted any stimulus to draw them 
forth in defence of her rights, other than a conviction that upon 
their exertions depended the continuance of those rights — it might be 
found in the heartfelt satisfaction derived from the consolation of 
having meritted and received the applause of a grateful [country] for 
the toils and dangers encountered in her behalf. 

Having lived ten years of the happiest part of my life in North 
Carolina and having received repeated marks of the partiality of my 
fellow citizens in that Government during my residence amongst them, 
I have ever entertained the warmest feelings of fraternal affection, 
and good will for them. And I now accept with veneration & respect 
this honorable pledge of a continuance of their affection. 
With considerations of high respect and Esteem 
I have the honor to be 
Most respectfully 

Your Ob Servant 

Isaac Shelby. 
His Excellency 

William Hawkins 

Governor of North Carolina.*^ 

■isprom the Letter Book of Governor William Hawkins, 1812-3, pp. 414-5. 
Collections of the North Carolina Historical Commission. For this copy I am 
indebted to Mr. R. D. W. Connor, Secretary of the N. C. Historical Commission. 



The battle of King's Mountain was decisive in its effect — 
shattering the plans of Comwallis which till then appeared 
certain of success^ and putting a full stop to the invasion of 
IsTorth Carolina^ then well under way. Cornwallis abandoned 
his prepared campaign and left the State. The initiative of 
the borderers, the loyalty of the militia^, the energy of the 
pursuit, the perfection of the surprise, all reinforced by 
ideal tactics to meet the given situation, were the controlling 
factors in this overwhelming victory, and pivotal contest of 
the Revolution. The pioneers of the Old Southwest' — the 
independent and aggressive yeomanry of ITorth Carolina, 
Virginia, and South Carolina — had risen in their might; 
and without the authority of blundering State governments, 
had created an army of frontiersmen, Indian fighters, and 
big game hunters which found no parallel or equal on the 
continent since the battle of the Great Kanawha.* 

The survey of the situation as given by Shelby is interest- 
ing as coming from a participant in the events : 

This battle happened at the most gloomy and critical period of 
the Revolutionary War, and was the first link in the great chain of 
events in the South that established the independence of the United 
States. It was achieved by raw and undisciplined riflemen without 
any authority from the Government under which they lived. It com- 
pletely dispirited the Tories and so much alarmed Lord Cornwallis, 
who then lay at Charlottstown with the British grand army that on 
being informed of Ferguson's total defeat and overthrow by the 
riflemen from the west, and that they were bearing down upon him, 
three thousand strong, he ordered an immediate retreat, marched all 
night in the utmost confusion and retrograded as far back as Winns- 
borough seventy or eighty miles, from whence he did not attempt to 
advance until reinforced by General Leslie from the Chesapeake with 
2,000 men, three months afterward. In the meantime the militia of 
North Carolina assembled in considerable force at New Providence 
on the borders of South Carolina under General Davidson. (General 
Smallwood with General Morgan's light corps, and the Maryland line 

♦Narratives of the King's Mountain campaign, which have proved of value in 
this research, are the accounts of General .Joseph Graham (Southern Literary 
Messenger. September 1845), Geneal William Lenoir (Wheeler's Sketches of 
North Carolina, ii, 105-108) and Captain David Vance (Greensboro, N. C 
edited by D. L. Schenck, 1891). 


advanced to the same point. General Gates with the shattered 
remains of his army collected at Hillsborough also came up and the 
new levies ( ? ) from Virginia under General Stephens of 1,000 men 
came forward. At the same time, (to wit) the second or third of 
December, General Green came up and took the command, and thus 
was dispelled the dismal gloom which had pervaded the Southern 

Following the battle of King's Mountain, the patriot force 
hanged nine Tory prisoners. This act has been severely con- 
demned ; but it is scarcely to be doubted that nothing short 
of such drastic action would have had a decisively deterrent 
effect upon future Tory murderings and depredations. Shel- 
by's own account of this seemingly inexcusable and ruthless 
act is quoted here^ both as a picture of the times and as a 
recital of Shelby's own part in the matter : 

The prisoners were marched back on the trail that the army had 
advanced upon, as well to join the men who were left behind with 
weak horses and on foot, as to avoid Lord Comwallis who they be- 
lieved to be only thirty or forty miles to the North (incoherent) after 
meeting the footmen and took a circuitous route towards the Moun- 
tains by Gilbert town, where we met an American officer paroled 
from Ninety six only the day before, who informed, that he had seen 
eleven American citizens hung at that place within a few days past, 
merely for their attachment to the cause of their country. This very 
much exasperated the American officers, at the same time a Repre- 
sentative from Assembly which just set at Hillsborough came into 
camp and had with him the manuscript of a law, authorizing two jus- 
tices within the State of North Carolina, to cause to be apprehended 
any citizen or loyalist who might be found in arms against his 
country, and if found guilty of treason to order him to immediate 
execution without any pleading in the case. The army with the 
prisoners were by this time in Rutherford County in North Carolina, 
a Sheriff of which, as well as several Justices of the Peace of the 
said County, were also in camp. Our Commander called a Council 
of officers to deliberate on the subject, who determined unanimously to 
try several of the prisoners under the aforesaid act of Assembly. 
The 8th day after the action they commenced trying them early in 
the morning beginning with the most atrocious offender first who had 
committed murder deliberately in cold blood, and who had otherwise 
murdered and destroyed the families of the Whigs, burned down 
houses, etc., and committed the most atrocious crimes. They con- 
tinued to try them until they had condemned 36 to be hung, and at 
two o'clock in the night following commenced hanging them, after they 


had hung nine of them, three at a time, and the fourth parcel of 
them was just about to be turned ofC the scaffold it was agreed on 
by Sevier, Cleveland and Shelby upon a motion of the latter, that they 
would put a stop to any further execution, and addressed Campbell on 
the subject, who readily came into their views, and released the 
three men that were then under the gallows to be executed, one of 
whom informed that Tarlton would be upon us next morning, that a 
woman had come into camp in the evening, and gave the information 
to the British officers, who communicated it to the Tories. The 
Americans immediately all mounted their horses, and were ready to 
march as soon as it was light enough to see for the night was 
excessively dark ; as soon as they could see the way they started 
directly toward the mountains, got into level valley that lead imme- 
diately toward the North. We had not marched a mile before 
DePeyster rode up to Col. Shelby and enquired "which way was that 
they were going," to which the Col. replied, that they were going up 
into their native element, the mountains. When DePeyster cried out, 
"you smell a rat," Shelby replied that they knew all about it. It 
commenced raining just after daylight, and was I believe, the wettest 
day I have even seen since ; so heavy was the rain that many parts 
of the valley became waist deep. The Americans continued their 
march until two o'clock that night, although it was dark as pitch, and 
the road could be seen by the continued flashes of lightning, when 
they came to the Catawba River which they supposed to be rising 
very fast from the quantity of rain that had fallen. The prisoners 
were forced into the water in a column of six: deep as they usually 
marched, and ordered to hold fast to each other as the current was 
very strong. Our march that day and night was 36 miles and the 
river next morning had risen 10 feet. This escape excited feelings of 
the deepest gratitude in the breasts of the Americans, after they had 
reached a place of safety. It was a well known fact to all men who 
lived in that day, that the execution of these nine prisoners, put a 
stop to the hanging of any more American citizens at Camden and 
Ninety-six, where several hundred persons had been previously 
executed at those two places, purely for their attachment to the 
Ajnerican cause. The prisoners taken at King's Mountain were given 
up by the Mountaineers to the militia assembled at Moravian Town 
to receive them, and afterwards marched to Salisbury where they 
were crowded into the jail and other houses prepared to receive 

]S[o account with any pretensions, either to accuracy or 
consecutiveness, has ever been given of the relation of Shelby, 
Sevier and the western leaders, to the cause of the Revolu- 
tion subsequent to the Battle of King's Mountain, The his- 
tories teem with inaccuracies and inexplicable confusions of 


names and dates. The recent discovery of letters and docu- 
ments, bearing on this period, make it possible for me to give 
for the first time, I believe, a reliable and consistent account 
of the role played by Shelby and some of the other frontier 
leaders in the closing years of the Revolution. 

There is an interesting revelation of vanity in Shelby's 
Autobiography,, in which he claims the credit, usually 
ascribed to General Nathaniel Greene, for the plan of cam- 
paign which eventuated in Morgan's defeat of Tarleton. 
This passage gives us an account also of Shelby's movements, 
following the delivery of the prisoners taken at King's Moun- 
tain to the authorities at Salem: 

When the British had gotten possession of the posts of Ninety Six 
and Augusta, they had an open communication with the Southern 
Indians, and furnished them with arms and ammunition by which 
means the Cherokees were enabled to wage a constant war against 
the new settlements forming on the western waters of North Caro- 
lina. Col. Shelby had long viewed this evil without being able to 
devise any means to prevent it. But after the prisoners taken at 
King's Mountain were disposed of at Moravian town, he set out from 
there to go to Headquarters, to solicit the Commander-in-Chief to 
send Gen. Morgan with his light troops into the upper country, to 
subdue those two posts. He knew from his own knowledge that 
Morgan would be strongly reinforced by the mountain men, and 
many others who had left their homes in the upper parts of Georgia 
and South Carolina rather than submit to the enemy. He found 
headquarters at a place called New Providence on the border of 
South Carolina, and under the command of Maj. Gen. Smallwood. 
He first communicated the object of his visit to camp to Gen. Morgan 
who seemed highly pleased and gratified at the suggestions made to 
him, readily entered into his views, saw at once the probable chance 
of success and said it was just what he had wanted, a separate 
command. He also made these suggestions to Gen. Smallwood, think- 
ing he might possibly order Morgan on but although he highly ap- 
proved the measure, he would not take upon himself the responsi- 
bility, as Gen. Gates would be in himself in a few days, and advised 
him to wait his arrival. He waited in camp upwards of a fortnight, 
when it was announced that Gen. Gates was near at hand. He set 
out next morning with six or eight officers to go to him and meet him 
about seven miles from camp vpith the remains of his army col- 
lected at Hillsborough. On Gates' arrival at camp he invited Shelby 
to dine with him the next day. He was proud to have an oppor- 
tunity to make his communications, and went before the usual hour. 


Gen. Gates gave him a cordial reception and invited him in. Col. 
Shelby replied that he had some important communications to make 
to him, that he had come early for that purpose, and would be glad 
if he would afford him an opportunity to do so. Gates pointing to a 
log a few rods from his door proposed to sit down on it. Before he 
heard all that Shelby had to say, he saw the practicability and 
importance of the measure proposed and observed, that if the board 
of war of North Carolina then sitting at Charlottstown would aid 
him with five hundred militia, he would send Morgan up with his 
light corps immediately. Gen. Gates was accordingly on horseback 
next morning before sunrise, and as he passed with his guards by 
Davidson's marked where Shelby lodged ; he joined him, and they 
arrived early at Charlotte. Gates opened the subject to the board 
of war — which consisted of Alexander Martin alone (who was then 
or shortly after Governor of the State) who very soon saw the 
propriety of the measure and requested Shelby to stay until next 
morning, and take some communications to the Northern counties of 
the State, which was on his way home where the men must be raised, 
which he did ; for the counties around Charlotte had been drained to 
form the camp at New Providence which then opposed the enemy. 
Col. Shelby set out the next morning, from Charlotte, which was 
about the 2d or 3d of December, 1780, and met Gen. Green about 
three miles from town, going forward to take command of the 
Southern army. Shelby had no idea that Tarlton, or any force would 
be sent up to oppose Morgan in that distant upper county, he only 
contemplated the reduction of the two posts. Ninety Six and Augusta. 
And if Gen. Green is entitled to any credit for the defeat of Tarlton 
by Morgan, it is merely that he permitted the enterprise to go on 
which led to that event, and which had been planned and ordered by 
Gen. Gates (on the suggestion of Shelby before he was superseded, 
and before Green took the command) Col. Shelby was at a loss to 
determine why so much time had elapsed from Green's taking the 
command on the 17th of January unless it was owing to the tardi- 
ness of the militia orders by the board of war as before stated, to 
John Morgan, or to the scarcity of provisions. For he can say of his 
own knowledge that there was never more than two days provisions 
at any one time while he stayed in the camp near three weeks ; the 
country at that time being drained of supplies. 


The value which was universally set upon the services of 
the over-mountain men and their leaders, Shelby and Sevier, 
following the overwhelming victory of King's Mountain is 
fully attested in documents of the period. The following 


letter, taken in conjunction witli the above-quoted passage 
from Shelby's Autobiography, is significant : 

Camp New Providence, 23d November, 1780. 

Sir : Colo. Shelby have been in camp for some time, waiting to lend 
his Aid, should anything go on offensive, but apprehending not much 
will be done this winter. And his domestick business call for him, 
and he having no command, is now on his way home. I have been 
speaking to him to raise about three hundred good rifle men this 
winter for the campaign, & join me early in the spring. He says 
he would willingly undertake it, provided he had a sanction for it. 
How far the Assembly of North Carolina would be disposed to 
countenance such a thing I don't know, but I assure you that a 
Number of such men would be a valuable Corps when annex'd to the 
Light Infantry, which must be made equal if not superior to Tarlton's 
Legion before this country can be defended. If you think proper to 
countenance a matter of this kind, you'll be kind enough to signify 
your approbation to Colo. Shelby and point out the mode. 

I have the Honor to be, with much 

Esteem, your obedt. servt. 

Danl, Morgan. 
The Honble. M. Genl. Gates. 

The greatest contemporary tribute to the leaders of the 
King's Mountain campaign, showing the high estimation in 
which their services were held and the need generally felt for 
the assistance to the American cause they could render, is 
found in the following action taken by the I^Torth Carolina 
Assembly at Halifax on February 13, 1781 : 

Resolved, That Colonel Isaac Shelby of Sullivan County and John 
Sevier, Esqr., of Washington County, be informed by this Resolve 
being communicated to them that the General Assembly of this State 
are feelingly impressed with the very generous and patriotic ser- 
vices rendered by the Inhabitants of the said Counties, to which their 
influence had in great degree contributed and earnestly urge that 
they would press a continuance of the same active exertion ; that the 
State of the Country is such as to call forth the utmost powers im- 
mediately in order to preserve its freedom and Independence, and 
that we may by the assistance of our friends in Virginia, as they 
have occasionally by us, as emergencies induced them, availed of it, 
we suggest our wishes that Colonel Arthur Campbell and Colonel 
William Preston of Virginia, thro' the Gentlemen mentioned, may be 
informed that their spirited conduct heretofore in favor of the 


Southern States affords us the most perfect assurance that they will 
make every active and effectual exertion at the present critical 
moment in favor of this State. 

At this same time, Ex-Governor Richard Caswell, an inti- 
mate acquaintance of Isaac Shelby, "defpicted to him the 
melancholy circumstances of his own State. The Tories 
were in motion all over North Carolina, and their footsteps 
were marked with bloody and their path was indicated by the 
most desolating devastations. Governor Caswell conjured 
him to turn to the relief of his distressed country."^® The 
Continental Congress, through their laudatory resolution of 
l^ovember 15, 1Y80, and the general officers of the American 
army, including Gates, Greene and Morgan, having ascer- 
tained the military value of the fighting frontiersmen, the 
inevitable result was that General Greene, on January 30, 
1781, wrote to "the famous Colonel William Campbell," re- 
minding him of the glory he had already acquired, and urging 
him '^to bring, without loss of time, a thousand good volun- 
teers from over the mountains. "^''^ The difficulties which the 
frontiersmen were experiencing with the Indians at this 
period, in a succession of campaigns, put out of the question 
the sending of any large force to assist Greene in his ISTorth 
Carolina campaign. 'No sooner had Sevier returned from 
the King's Mountain campaign than he was called upon to 
lead three hundred horsemen from Watauga, in conjunction 
with three hundred from Sullivan County, and one hundred 
from Washington County, Virginia — the whole under the 
command of Colonel Arthur Campbell, County-Lieutenant of 
Washington County, against the Cherokees. Upon the return 
of Colonel Campbell from this expedition, which was en- 
tirely successful, the first of January, 1781, he immediately 
communicated with General ^Nathaniel Greene, the Com- 
mander of the Southern Department, who accordingly, on 
February 6, 1781, appointed Arthur Campbell, William 

''^Haywood : Civil and Political History of Tennessee. In slavishly following 
Haywood, Ramsey (p. 251) falls into the error of stating that Caswell, instead 
of Abner Nash, was Governor of North Carolina in 1781. 

^"Draper : King's Mountain and its Heroes, 391 ; Summers : South West Vir- 
ginia, 327-360 passim. 


Preston, William Christian and Joseph Martin, of Virginia, 
and Robert Lanier, Evan Shelby, Joseph Williams and John 
Sevier, of JSTorth Carolina, commissioners to meet commis- 
sioners from the Cherokees to treat on the subject of bound- 
aries, to arrange for an exchange of prisoners and terms 
of peace, and to invite the Indians to appoint a commission 
to visit Congress.*^ 

The treaty was set for March 24, 1781, at the Long Island 
of Holston River. On that day Colonels Campbell, Martin, 
Shelby and Sevier assembled there, and sent off one of the 
Indians captured in the recent campaign to the Indian nation 
proposing peace and fixing June 10th following as the date 
for the conference. The date was again postponed until July 
20, 1T81.^^ Continued depredations by the hostile Indians 
earlier in the year seriously hampered the Tennessee and Vir- 
ginia borderers at this time; and Col. John Sevier, suspect- 
ing that "the perpetrators of this mischief came from some 
hostile towns in the mountain gorges," had resolved to lead 
an expedition against them. 

In March of this year Colonels John Sevier and Isaac Shelby un- 
dertook an expedition against the Chickamauga Indians, and to assist 
in this undertaking 200 of the militia of Washington county joined 
Colonel Isaac Shelby and marched to the Big Island in the French 
Broad River, vi^here the troops were rendezvoused, from which point 
they marched for the sources of the Mobile River, and after the third 
day they crossed the Tennessee river at Scitico, at which point they 
held a council with the friendly Indians. On the 6th day they en- 
camped on the Hiawassee river, and on the 7th day they crossed the 
river and passed into the territory of the hostile Indians, Colonel 
Sevier with his forces, marched immediately against Vann's Towns, 
which he reduced to ashes, and thence to Bull Town, at the head of 
Chickamogga Creek. After the destruction of this town they marched 
to the Coosa river, where they killed a white man by the name of 
Clements from whom it was ascertained that he was a sergeant in 
the British army, and it was believed that he instigated the Indians 
in their depredations against the frontiers. The army then pro- 
ceeded to Spring Frog Town, thence up the Coosa river to Estanola 
and Indian Town which they destroyed. After thus destroying the 

^Weeks : General Joseph Martin and the War of the Revolution in the West, 
429-433; Haywood: Civil and Political History of Tennessee (1823) ; Summers: 
Southwest Virginia, 348. 

^^Calendar Virginia State Papers, ii, 199. 


Indian towns and killing all the Indian Warriors they could find, the 
troops returned to Ghote, where a council was held with the friendly 
Indians, at the conclusion of which the troops were disbanded and 
returned to their homes.^ 

Although neither Shelby nor Sevier could lead a force of 
mountain men to the relief of Grreene, Captain Charles Rob- 
ertson raised a company of about one hundred and fifty volun- 
teers and took a creditable part in the battle of Guilford 
Courthouse on March 15, 1781.^^ With equal patriotism, 
Colonel William Campbell raised a company of one hundred 
men of the militia of Washington County, and on February 
25, 1781, set out to join the militia of Botetourt and Mont- 
gomery counties, on their march to join General Greene's 
army. "A large number would have gone," says Arthur Camp- 
bell in a letter to Governor Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, of 
date February 28, 1781, "were it not for the daily apprehen- 
sion of attacks from the northward and southern Indians." 
About March 3, Colonel Campbell with sixty followers in his 
immediate command, effected a junction with Greene's army ; 
but the total number of the combined forces of William Camp- 
bell and William Preston, who reached Greene about the 
same time, was upwards of four hundred. ^^ These forces 
fought with staunchness and bravery at Guilford Courthouse, 
fully justifying Greene's description of the "back country 
people" as "bold and daring in their make."^^ 


Following the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Greene de^ 
voted his attention to reducing the British posts in South 

^This account is taken from Summer : Southwest Virginia, 360-1. Cf. also 
Ramsey : Tennessee, 268-9 ; Weeks : Joseph Martin, 432. In his Autobiography, 
Shelby makes no mention of having taken part in this expedition. 

^iRamsey : Annals of Tennessee, 251 ; cf. monograph. Major Charles Robert- 
son, and Some of His Descendants, by Mrs. Charles Fairfax Henley. Cf. also 
Schenck's North Carolina, 1780-1, 302. 

^^Calendar of Virginia State Papers, 542 ; Johnson's Greene, i. 455. Draper is 
in error in giving the citation to Johnson, i, 438, in support of the statement 
that there were "four hundred mountaineers" under Campbell ; the allusion is 
to the "400 regulars, under Colonel Richard Campbell," who had been organ- 
ized and despatched to Greene's relief by the Baron Steuben. (Schenck's North 
Carolina: 1780-81, 272.) 

^Cf. Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee, 251-2, for comments upon the probable 
results of that battle, had Shelby and Sevier led the over-mountain men to 
Greene's assistance. 


Carolina and Georgia. After the fall of Augusta, on June 
25, only Ninety-six remained in British hands ; but Greene 
was foiled in his attack upon that post on June 18 and 19. 
From the "Camp at Bush River, in the District of !N"inety-six, 
June 22, 1781," Greene once more appealed for aid to the 
Watauga riflemen in a letter to Isaac Shelby, hitherto unpub- 
lished. In this important letter he says : 

We have been upon the eve of reducing all the enemies interior 
posts in South Carolina and Georgia. Ninety-Six vs^as the last and 
four days more would have completed its reduction, when, unfor- 
tunately, we were compelled to raise the siege, the enemy having 
been reinforced at Charlestovpn. Lord Rawdon marched out in 
force and is now in our neighborhood. To secure the advantages of 
our past success it is necessary we should drive the enemy into the 
lower country. To enable us to effect this I beg you to march to our 
assistance a thousand good riflemen, well armed and equipped fit for 
action. If you can join us in a few days with such a force you will 
render an important service to the public in general, to the State of 
South Carolina in particular, and lay me under very particular obli- 
gations. I feel myself deeply interested in this application. 

At the time when this letter reached Shelby, the military 
leaders of Virginia and Tennessee were busily concerned in 
the negotiations for peace with the Cherokees. Isaac Shelby 
attended the treaty at the Long Island of Holston from July 
20 to July 29, 1781. The despatches from the Commissioners 
to General Greene^, reporting the results of this treaty, were 
entrusted to Shelby for delivery, as it was known that he had 
promised General Greene to raise a force and march to his 
aid. The following letter, hitherto unpublished in any his- 
tory, exhibits in detail the efforts made by Shelby and Sevier 
to raise and to march a force to cooperate with Greene. 

Camp on Wattauga Washington Covmty 

North Carolina 3d August 1781. 
HoND. Sir : In answer to your request of the 22d June last I rote 
you by the Express, that I should March by the 15th July with what 
force cou'd be rais'd in this quarter, but the Cherokee Treaty not 
being over found it impracticable to draw any force from here untUl 
that important Business (to this frontier) was finally ratified, which 
was done the 29th July, and immediately every step taken to rein- 


force you ; about 700 good riflemen well mounted were now in motion 
toward you & should Mve been down in as short a time as possible 
but an Express arrived in camp last night from General Pickens that 
informed us of the Enemys retreat to Orangeburg and perhaps to 
Charles Town, that distance being so very great for us, the warm 
season of the year & the men not prepared for so long a Tower, had 
induced Col. Severe of this county and myself from proceeding on 
our march, until one hear farther accounts from that quarter tho the 
men are ordered to hold themselves in readiness to march on the 
shortest notice, and as our country is now in a state of peace and 
tranquility, have no doubt but we can furnish you with a large pro- 
portion of good men from here whenever you may find necessary to 
require us. 

I have the honour to be with, respect 

Your Mo. Obt. Hvunble Servt. 

Endorsed : Isaac Shelby.^ 

From Colo. Shelby 
Augt. .3d., 1781. 

After Shelby and Sevier concluded not to march, Shelby 
returned the despatches for Greene, mentioned above, to the 
Commissioners who had negotiated the treaty with the Cliero- 
kees.^^ Greene had been greatly depressed by the failure of 
Shelby and Sevier to march their seven hundred riflemen to 
his assistance; and throughout July he was frequently heard 
to exclaim: ''What can detain Shelby and Sevier ?"^*^ Writ- 
ing to Colonel Lee from Camden on August 25, Greene de- 
spondently says : "We are thus far on our way to join Colonel 
Henderson, but the tardiness with which everybody moves 
who was expected to join us, almost makes me repent that I 
have put the troops in motion. ISTear two hundred of the 
JSTorth Carolina Regulars, who ought to have been here four 
days past, are not likely to be here for four or five to come. 
Colonel Shelby, I believe, had gone back, if he ever set out, 
which I much doubt. General Pickens had not been heard of, 
and I fear will not have it in his power to bring any con- 

"Original MS. letter owned by Arthur M. Rutledge, of Louisville, Kentucky. 
Draper is in error in stating that Greene's letter to Shelby miscarried. {King's 
Mountain and its Heroes, 413) Johnson erroneously cites Sevier as the author of 
Shelby's letter above (Greene, ii, 210). 

^Shelby's Autohiograpliy . The details of the treaty, it seems, have never been 
published. G. W. Greene clearly is in error in giving the date of Shelby's letter 
to Greene as August 6 (Life of Nathaniel Oreene, iii, 374n). Of. also Johnson: 
Greene, ii, 184-5. 

^•Johnson's Greene, ii, 210. 


siderable reinforcements ; nor do I expect Lieutenant-Colonel 
Henderson will be able to do much more. Tbe State troops 
I am told (are) all getting sickly, as is the ISTorth Carolina 
Regulars. Not more than one-half the militia from North 
Carolina are arrived, and the whole that are here don't exceed 
four hundred. You know I never despair, nor shrink at diffi- 
culties, but our prospects are not flattering. "^'^ 

Greene continued to rely upon receiving reinforcements 
from Watauga; and after his victory at Eutaw Springs, he 
despatched to Shelby the following letter, which was to have 
momentous consequences. This letter was not received by 
Shelby before the last of September or first of October, as it 
"came through Virginia, was found in Henry County by a 
neighbor, and brought out at his leisure." 

Head Quarters, 
High Hills of Santee 
Sept. 16, 1781. 
Dear Sib : 

I have the pleasure to inform you that we had an action with the 
British Army on the 8th in which we were victorious. We took 
500 prisoners and killed and wounded a much greater number. We 
also took near 1000 stand of arms, and have driven the enemy near 
to the gates of Charleston. I have also the pleasure to inform you 
that, a large French fleet of nearly thirty sail of the line, has 
arrived in the Chessepeak bay, vnth a considerable number of land 
forces ; all of which are to be employed against Lord Cornwallis, who 
it is suspected will endeavor to make good his retreat through North 
Carolina to Charleston. To prevent which I beg you to bring out as 
many riflemen as you can, and as soon as possible. You will march 
them to Charlotte, and inform me the moment you set out, and of 
your arrival. 

If we can intercept his lordship it will put a finishing stroke to 
the war in the Southern states. 

Should I get any intelligence which may change the face of mat- 
ters I will advise you. I am with esteem and regard, your most 
obedient & humble Servant, Nath. Geeen. 

Col. Shelby, back parts of North Carolina.^ 

B7H. Lee: Campaign of 1781 in the Carolinas (1824), 455-6. 

^SLetter of Isaac Shelby to C. S. Todd, June 28, 1822. This letter was first 
given publicity by Shelby in his Memoir because of the unwarranted charge 
brought by Judge Johnson in his biography of Greene (ii, 258) against Sevier 
and Shelby for having "deserted" Greene. 


Upon the receipt of this letter^ Shelby immediately com- 
municated its contents by express to Sevier, who lived fifty 
miles away, and proposed a rendezvous of their men early in 
October. In making the enlistments, Shelby assured the 
volunteers that they should not be absent from their families 
for more than sixty days. 

I made great exertions, and collected the men in a few days there- 
after, many of them had not received more than 24 hours notice and 
lived more than 100 miles from the place of rendezvous — but were 
willing to go as the call was made for a special purpose — to wit, 
to intercept Lord Comwallis who it was suspected would endeavor to 
make good his retreat through N. Carolina to Charleston and Gen. 
Green thought and so did I that if we could intercept him, it would 
put an end to the war in the S. states. To effect this important 
object, the people on the western waters were induced to volunteer 
their services — it was for this purpose that they were prevailed upon 
to leave their homes 500 miles from the scene of operations to defend 
a Maritime district of country surrounded with a dense population 
and in comparative quiet, while their own firesides were daily 
menaced by the Chicamauga Indians, who as you know had declared 
perpetual war against the whites and could never be induced to 
make peace. I was far advanced on my road when I received vague 
information of the surrender of Cornwallis in Virginia and hesitated 
whether to proceed. But as the men appeared to be willing to serve 
out a tour of duty which at the time of their entering the service I 
repeatedly assured them should not exceed 60 days absence from 
their homes, I proceeded on more leisurely to Green, who observed to 
me that such a body of horse could not remain in the vicinity of his 
camp on account of the scarcity of forage and requested me to serve 
out the tour with Marion, to which I consented, however, with some 
reluctance as the men would be drawn 70 or 80 miles further from 
their homes.^® 

Shelby quickly raised upwards of five hundred mounted 
riflemen; and Sevier with equal despatch raised two hun- 
dred mounted riflemen in Washington County. These two 
bodies, totalling some seven hundred, joined Marion at his 
camp on the Santee. The hint was given to Marion that ''if 
he would keep them he must keep them busy."^^ 

It was with considerable reluctance that Shelby and Sevier 

^^Shelby's Autobiography. 

^'Greene Mss., cited in Greene's Greene, iii, 419. 


consented to being attached to Marion's command. "Their 
men were called out upon a pressing emergency which no 
longer existed. They had been, moreover, enrolled only 
sixty days. Much of that time had already expired, and the 
contemplated service under Marion would take them still 
further from their distant homes. Besides Shelby was a 
member of the General Assembly of ISTorth Carolina, from 
Sullivan County, and its session at Salem took place early in 

Almost at once they were engaged in very active service. 
The account of the ensuing events is contained in Shelby's 
Autobiography, here reproduced as written : 

The enemies main Southern army, it was said, lay at that time 
near a place called Fergusson's Swamp on the great road bearing di- 
rectly to Charleston. Gen'l Marion received information several 
weaks after our arrival at his camp that several hundred Hessians 
at a British Post near Monk's Corner, eight or ten miles below the 
enemies main army were in a state of mutiny, and would surrender 
the post to any considerable American force that might appear before 
it; and consulted his principal officers on the propriety of surprising 
it, which was soon determined on, and Shelby and Sevier solicited a 
command in it. Marion accordingly moved down eight or ten miles, 
and crossed over to the South side of the Santee River, from whence 
he made a detachment of five or six hundred men to surprise the 
post, the command of which was given to Colonel Mayhem. The 
detachment consisted of Shelby's mounted riflemen with Mayhem's 
Dragoons, about one hundred and eighty, and about twenty or thirty 
lowland mounted militia, the command of the whole was given to 
Colonel Mayhem. They took up their march early in the morning, 
and traveled fast through the woods until late in the evening of the 
second day, when they struck the great road leading to Charleston, 
about two miles below the enemy's post, which they intended to sur- 
prise. They lay upon their arms all night across the road with a 
design to intercept the Hessians in case the enemy had got notice of 
our approach and had ordered them down to Charleston before morn- 
ing. In the course of the night which was as dark as pitch an 
orderly Sergeant rode into the line amongst us, and was taken 
prisoner. No material papers were found upon him before he made 
his escape except a pocket book which contained the strength of the 
enemy's main army and their number then on the sick list, which was 
very great. 

•iRamsey : Annals of Tennessee^ 254. 


As soon as daylight appeared, we advanced to the British Post, and 
arrived there before sunrise. Col. Mayhem sent in one of his confi- 
dential officers with peremptory demand for a surrender of the gar- 
rison, who in a few minutes returned and reported that the officer 
commanding was determined to defend the post to the last extremity. 
Col. Shelby then proposed that he would go in himself and make 
another effort to obtain a surrender, which Mayhem readily con- 
sented to. Upon his approach he discovered a gap in the Abbaties,^ 
through which he rode up close to the building, when an officer opened 
one leaf of a long folding door. Col. Shelby addressed him in these 
words, "Will you be so mad as to suffer us to storm your works, if 
you do rest assured that every soul of you will be put to the sword, 
for there was several hundred men at hand that would soon be in 
with their tomahawks upon them" ; he then inquired if they had any 
artillery. Shelby replied, "that they had guns that would blow them 
to pieces in a minute." Upon which the officer replied, "I suppose I 
must give up." Mayhem seeing the door thrown wide open, and 
Shelby ascend the high steps to the door, immediately advanced with 
his dragoons, and formed on the right. It was not until this moment 
we discovered another strong British Fort that stood five or six hun- 
dred yards to the East, and this is the first knowledge we had of 
that post, the garrison of which immediately marched out, about one 
hundred infantry and forty or fifty cavali*y came around the North 
Angle of the fort all apparently with a design to attack us ; they 
however soon halted as we stood firm and prepared to meet them. 
We took a hundred and fifty prisoners, all of them able to have fought 
from the windows of the house, or from behind Abbaties. Ninety 
of them were able to stand a march to Marion's camp that day which 
was near sixty miles ; and we paroled the remainder most of whom 
appeared to have been sick, and unable to stand so hard a march. 
Information soon reached Marion's camp that the post had been 
burnt down immediately on our leaving it; but it was always the 
opinion of Col. Shelby that the enemy had abandoned it, and burnt 
it themselves, for Mayhem and Shelby were the two last men that 
left the place, and at that time there was not the least sign of fire or 
smoke about it. This it is most probable they would do, as they had 
previously destroyed, and burned down almost every building in that 
part of the country. This post was an immense brick building, calcu- 
lated to hold a thousand men, and said to have been built by Sir 
John GoUitin a century before that period as well for defense as 
comfort ; and was well enclosed by a strong abbaties. In it were 
found, besides the prisoners three or four hundred stand of arms, 
and as many new blankets. The American detachment left this post 
between nine and ten o'clock of the same day, and arrived at Marion's 
camp the night following at three o'clock. Gen. Stewart who com- 
manded the Enemy's main army, eight or ten miles above made great 


efforts to intercept us on our return. And it was announced to 
Marion before sunrise next morning tliat the whole British army was 
in the old field about three miles off at the outer end of the cause- 
way that led into his camp. Shelby was immediately ordered out 
with the mountain men to meet him at the edge of the swamp, 'to 
attack the enemy if he attempted to advance and retreat at his own 
discretion, to where Marion would have his whole force drawn up to 
sustain him at an old field. Shortly after his arrival at the edge 
of the open plain, he observed two British officers ride up to a house 
equidistant between the lines, after they retired he rode to the 
house to know what inquiries they had made ; a man told him that 
they had asked him when the Americans detaclmaent had got in, what 
was their force, and of what troops it was composed ; he replied that 
the detachment had come in just before day, that he had supposed 
as they went out they were six or eight hundred strong ; and were 
composed chiefly of Shelby's and Sevier's mounted men, with May- 
hem's Dragoons. The enemy then being in the edge of the woods, 
silently withdrew out of sight, and retreated back in the utmost 
disorder and confusion. A small party sent out to reconnoiter the 
enemy, reported that many of them had thrown away their knai)- 
sacks, guns and canteens. A few days afterwards Gen'l. Marion re- 
ceived intelligence that the British commander had retreated with 
his whole force to Charleston. Marion's sole design in moving from 
the camp when the mountain men first joined him, and crossing the 
Santee River below, was to get within striking distance of the be- 
fore mentioned post, to make the said detachment, and be able to 
protect and support them on their retreat if hard pushed by the 
enemy. After this the enemy kept so within their lines that little or 
no blood was spilt, and all active movements appearing to be at an 
end, Shelby made application to Gen'l Marion for leave of absence to 
go to the Assembly of North Carolina, of which he was a member, 
and which was to meet about that time at Salem, and where he had 
private business of his own of the first importance. The mountain 
men had then but a day or two to stay, to complete their tour of 
duty, of sixty days, and he verily believes that they did serve it out, 
as he never heard to the contrary.*^ 

"^In a conversation with C. S. Todd, May 16, 1826, Shelby said concerning the 
affair at Monk's Corner : 

"When we arrived on parade with the detachment against the British post 
near Monk's Corner, I did not know who was to command but I expected I was — 
as I had been informed that Marion was only a Lt.-Col. When I understood the 
command had been assigned to Marion I made objections and refused to march, 
as I was the superior officer. The detachment stood still until Marion himself 
came from a distance of one-half mile who entreated me in the most friendly 
language to yield to the arrangement he had made. That Marion was well 
acquainted with the country through which we were to pass and with the 
immediate neighborhood of the post we were to attack. I submitted to his 
request because I was to stay but a short time in camp and I thought Marion to 
be much of a gentleman and so he treated me. Indeed, throughout the expedi- 
tion he gave me no orders but consulted me on all occasions. These mountain- 
eers were poor men who lived by keeping stock in the range beyond the moun- 
tains, they were volunteers and neither expected nor received any compensation 



On I^ovember 25, having virtually filled out their term of 
enlistment, the mountaineers set off homeward in a deep 
snow. About ISTovember 28 th, Shelby applied to Marion for 
leave of absence to attend the session of the Assembly of 
IsTorth Carolina, which was to meet at the Moravian Town 
(Salem). Shelby had been elected a member of the legis- 
lature from Sullivan County and was charged with a "Memo- 
rial to be laid before that body in relation to a subject of 
deep importance." According to Shelby's own statement, 
General Marion "readily gTanted my request and addressed 
a letter by me to General Green which I was permitted to see 
directed to him at the High Hills of Santee where he ex- 
pected General Green was still encamped. In this letter I 
have a distinct recollection that he spoke in the highest terms 
of the conduct of the mountaineers and gave me my full share 
of the credit for the capture of the British Post."^^ 

Shelby attended the JSTorth Carolina Assembly at Salem in 
December, 1781, which adjourned without action. On re- 
turning to Holston, as stated by Draper, Shelby "was engaged 
during the spring in preparing for an expedition against the 
Chickamauga band of Cherokees, and the hostile Creeks at 
the sources of the Mobile^ in which enterprise he was to have 
been joined by two hundred men from Washington County, 
Virginia; but on account of the poverty of that State, the 
authorities discouraged the scheme, and reaching Big Creek, 
thirty miles below Long Island of Holston, the expedition was 
relinquished."^^ Having again been elected a member of the 
North Carolina Assembly, Shelby attended the session at 

"^Shelby's statements effectually dispose of Judge Johnson's malicious charges 
(Greene, ii, 258j5f), repeated by G. W. Greene (Greene, iii, 419). The whole 
matter has been thoroughly traversed by Ramsey in his Aniials of Tennessee 
(1853 edn.) 253-261if. 

"^In this connection, cf. N. C. State Records, xvi, 696-7-8, for plans for the 

except liquidated certificates worth 2S. in the pound. Gen. Greene had no right 
nor ought to have expected to command their services. For myself for the whole 
services of 1780 and 1781 both in camp and in the assembly I received a liquida- 
tion certificate which my agent in that county after my removal to Kentucky 
sold for six yards of Middling Broadcloth and I gave one coat of it to the person 
who brought it out to me — indeed I was proud of receiving that." 


Hillsborougli in April^ 1Y82.^^ At tMs session he took an 
active part in the proceedings, and was engaged busily on 
important committees. At this session was passed the liberal 
"Act for the relief of the Officers and Soldiers in the Conti- 
nental line, etc./' rewarding the revolutionary soldiers for 
their patriotic services — to every soldier who should continue 
in the ranks until the end of the war 640 acres of land; to 
every officer a larger quantity according to his rank, a colonel 
receiving Y,200 and a brigadier 12,000 acres ; and to G^eneral 
Greene 25,000 acres. Section VIII of this act reads as fol- 

And he it further enacted, That Absalom Tatom, Isaac Shelby, and 
Anthony Bledsoe, Esquires, or any two of them, are appointed com- 
missioners in behalf of the State, to examine and superintend the 
laying off the land in one or more tracts allotted to the officers and 
soldiers, and they shall be accompanied by one or more agents, whom 
the officers may appoint, to assist in the business ; and in case any 
commissioner so appointed shall die, or refuse to act his Excellency 
the Governor shall fill up the vacancy." 

Full instructions were given the commissioners by Governor 
Alexander Martin, ^''^ and, accompanied by a guard of one 
hundred men, they arrived at I^ashborough and the Cumber- 
land in January, 1783. Under the provisions of the act 
above, the commissioners were instructed to settle the pre- 
emption claims of those who had settled on the Cumberland 
River prior to June 1, 1780. Under conditions of grave 
danger from the Indians, who killed various members of the 
Cumberland settlements, including one of their own party, 
the commissioners satisfactorily concluded their task in the 
early spring of 1783.^^ Their visit marks the beginning of 
prosperity and moderate security from the Indians, for the 
exposed settlements along the Cumberland. 

6SCf. N. C. State Records, xvi, 68, 101, 109, 128, passim. For a long and 
laborious, yet Imperfect sketch of Isaac Shelby, compare National Portrait Gal- 
lery, i (1834). This sketch, by his son-in-law, Charles Stewart Todd, once 
Minister to Russia, is reproduced, with a number of alterations, in G. W. Grif- 
fin's Memoir of Col. Chas. S. Todd (1873), 157-174. 

^State Records of N. C, xxiv, 421. 

^N. C. State Records, xvi, 713 ; Martin to the Commissioners. 

"sputnam : History of Middle Tennessee, 162-3, 172, 177, contains a descrip- 
tion of the work of the commissioners. 


On January 13, 1783, Isaac Shelby, Joseph Martin, and 
John Donelson were appointed commissioners on behalf of 
the State of Virginia to treat with the Cherokees, Creeks and 
Chickasaws for peace. Shelby did not attend the treaties 
subsequently held with the Chickamaugas at the Long Island 
of Holston on July 9, 1Y83 ; and with the Chickasaws at the 
French Lick on ^November 5 and 6, 1783.^® 

In fact, more important business now occupied his atten- 
tion ; for in April he was married to the young woman whom 
he had long loved — Susanna Hart. She was the daughter of 
Colonel Nathaniel Hart of l^orth Carolina, a prominent 
member of the Transylvania Company. Isaac Shelby courted 
his sweetheart at the famous fort of Boonesborough, in the 
neighborhood of which her father had been slain by the 
Indians the preceding year.''^^ 'No doubt he wore at the time 
that memorable "suit of middling broadcloth," which was his 
recompense for his service to his country in the King's Moun- 
tain campaign. In the union of the names of Hart and 
Shelby, and in the associations which cluster about them, may 
be recognized a living symbol of the greatness of Kentucky 
for more than a century and a quarter. 

The marriage, appropriately solemnized as the Revolu- 
tion came to a triumphant close, marks the end of the era. 
Of Shelby's future career — as first Governor of the Common- 
wealth, general, eminent citizen — a new study must be pro- 
jected.''^^ A fitting summary of the virtues of this distin- 
guished American, whose honored name is forever linked with 
the history of Korth Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and 
Kentucky, and the nation, is contained in these words of 
Governor James T. Morehead, in his address at Boonesbor- 
ough (May 25, 1840) : 

"Great men," said Mr. Burke, "are the guide posts and landmarks 
in the State." The life of Isaac Shelby is a signal example of un- 

'"Weeks : Joseph Martin, 435-6. 

wCf. Mrs. Ellef s Pioneer Women of the West, 19-22, in sketch of Mary Bled- 
soe ; Address of George Blackburn Kinkead, delivered at Boonsborough Fort, 
Oct. 5, 1907 ; Taylor's Historic Sullivan, 36-7. 

"In this connection compare the address of Mrs. Mary Shelby Wilson at the 
unveiling and presentation to Memorial Continental Hall of the marble bust of 
Isaac Shelby, April 19, 1811. 


blemished personal integrity and enlarged public usefulness, whicii 
may be safely imitated by all those who aspire to become bene- 
factors of their country. Starting into active life without the aid of 
fortune or education, he pursued the gradations of military rank 
from the lieutenancy of a militia company to the command of a regi- 
ment — he rose from the hvunble station of a surveyor among the 
pioneers to the governorship of a great Commonwealth — and was 
distinguished in all the posts to which he was called. His mind like 
his body was strong and vigorous : boldness, energy, decision, were 
its leading characteristics. Capable of thinking for himself, he in- 
vestigated every important subject that came within the range of his 
private or public duties, with candor and deliberation ; and having 
formed his opinions, he followed them with unshaken firmness. He 
spoke and wrote as he thought— with great force and vigor — always 
expressing his opinions vsi-th manly frankness, and a lofty disdain 
of personal consequences. His manners — derived from the school in 
which he was brought up — were plain and simple, and commanded, 
without any affectation of dignity, the universal deference of his 
associates. He was sincere but not profuse in his professions of 
attachment — faithful and steadfast to his friends when those attach- 
ments were once formed. Elevating himself in the discharge of his 
official duties above the influence of private considerations, he sought 
. and rewarded merit for his country's sake. If such was his character 
as a public man, he maintained all the relations of life with equal 
credit and success. 



The present research, dealing with the career of Isaac Shelby down 
to the close of the Revolution, is a fragment of a larger study, a 
detailed biography. In the preparation of these two papers, I have 
been materially assisted by my friend, Judge Samuel M. Wilson, of 
Lexington, Kentucky. He has placed at my disposal original and un- 
published material, as well as interesting contributions to the history 
of Kentucky and the West which have remained hidden in inaccessi- 
ble publications. I am also indebted to Mr. William R. Shelby of 
Grand Rapids, Michigan, and to Colonel Samuel King of Bristol, 
Tennessee-Virginia, for transcripts of valuable documents throwing 
light upon Shelby's career. 

There are a few statements to be made here, which are the results 
of more intensive study and purport either to correct or to modify 
statements already made. 

In regard to the parents of Greneral Evan Shelby, to wit : Evan 
Shelby, Sr., and Catherine Davies, it is certain that they were 
natives of Wales, with a large percentage of Welsh blood. Evan and 
Davies are characteristic Welsh names. Those best informed in 
regard to the family's early history, however, believe that the name 
was originally Selby, and that the Shelbys were of English extrac- 

The records at Upper Marlboro, the county seat of Prince George's 
County, Maryland, reveal many transactions in which the Shelbys 
figure as residents of said county prior to the creation of Frederick 
County (not carved out of Prince George's County until 1748). It 
is probable that the immigrant ancestors of the Shelby family settled 
in Maryland nearer 1730 than 1735. Ultimately, by the formation of 
Washington County, the residence of Evan Shelby, near the North 
Mountain, was found to be in Washington County. (See Part I, 

The earliest surveys and grants to Evan Shelby, Senior and Junior, 
make it reasonably certain that the Shelbys resided continuously in 
Maryland from 1739 or earlier to 1771 or 1772. In particular, see 
Scharf's History of Western Maryland, ii, 982-6. (See Part I, 112-3.) 

Isaac Shelby's mother was Letitia Cox (correctly given in Part I, 
p. 114, inadvertently given as "Scott" on p. 113). There is strong docu- 
mentary evidence that she was bom, not in Frederick Town, but 
somewhere in Prince George's County, Maryland. She was married 
to Evan Shelby probably in August, 1744. 

Isaac Shelby was not the eldest son of Evan Shelby, being the 
second son and third child. Susannah Shelby, born about 1746, was 
the first born child and John Shelby, born about 1748, was the 
second child and eldest son. Evan Shelby brought to Virginia five 


sons : John, Isaac, Evan, Moses and James. A younger daughter, 
Catherine, was married to Captain James Thompson. (Part I, 113.) 

Within recent years the remains of General Evan Shelby have been 
removed from his original grave and re-interred in East View Ceme- 
tery, Bristol. (Part I, 114.) 

In Part I, 133, twelfth line from bottom should read (in part) : 
"... it was not supposed . . ." 

In Part I, 134, the last two lines should read: "opened at St. 
Asaph's on October 13, 1779; and again at St. Asaph's, on April 26, 
1780, after various sessions at Harrodsburg and elsewhere, the court 
announced that its." 

In Part I, 135, line 11, "1778" is a misprint for "1776." 

There is good reason to believe that the "Captain I. Shelby" re- 
ferred to in Clark's Memoir, is not Isaac, but James Shelby. The 
"J" was misread "I." At this time, Isaac Shelby was a Major, under 
commission from Governor Jefferson of Virginia. It is uncertain 
whether this James Shelby was a brother or a cousin of Isaac Shelby. 
(Part I, 136.) 

In Part I, 141, foot-note 49, line 2, "eighty- three" is a misprint for 



By Chief Justice Walter Clark 

In view of the enlistment of negroes as soldiers in tlie pres- 
ent war, it may be of interest to note the part that they have 
taken as soldiers in our previous wars. 

In the Revolutionary War there was no small number of 
negroes who served as soldiers. These were mostly free ne- 
groes, but no small part of them were slaves, who served, 
usually, but not always, as substitutes for their owners under 
promise of freedom at the end of the war. This promise was 
usually kept, but not always. An act of the Virginia Legis- 
lature passed in 1783, recites that every slave who had 
enlisted upon the faith of a promise of freedom from his 
master should be declared free accordingly, and directed the 
Attorney-General of that State to institute proceedings in all 
cases where the promise had not been complied with, and 
that the court on proof, should enter a decree of emancipation. 
It is greatly to the credit of that State that such act should 
have been passed. 

In ISTorth Carolina it does not appear that such act was 
necessary, however, as the only statute is one enfranchising a 
certain negro, Ned Griffin, of Edgecombe, whose master, 
William Kitchen, had promised him his liberty on condition 
of service in the Continental line of this State for twelve 
months, which he had done, and the act declared him a free 
man. Laws 1784, ch. 70. Laws 1779, ch. 12, validated the 
freedom of all slaves who had served in the army under the 
promise of being free. 

These negToes, whether freemen, or slaves, enlisting under 
a promise of freedom, did not serve in separate organiza- 
tions, but in the ranks with the white soldiers. This appears 
in the diary of Hugh McDonald of this State, and also in 
other memoirs and diaries of those times. 

In the first collision between the Americans and the British 
soldiers in Boston the leader of the popular revolt was Crispus 


Attucks, a free negro, wlio was killed by the soldiers, and 
whose statue today stands on the Boston Commons. 

At the battle of Bunker Hill, Peter Salem, a negro slave 
who had volunteered on promise of freedom, behaved with 
conspicuous courage, and it was he who shot Major Pitcaim 
in reply to a summons to surrender. Bancroft says that "In 
the forces under Washington the free negroes had representa- 
tives in various companies and regiments, and their names 
are preserved on the pension list of the nation." At that 
time slavery existed in all the Colonies and, the draft laws 
covering only "free persons," no slaves were drawn except 
those who went on promise of freedom or as substitutes for 
their masters. These served usually in the ranks with the 
other soldiers, but it is recorded that Major Samuel Lawrence 
of Groton, Mass., raised a command composed entirely of 
free negroes. The Continental Congress passed an act for- 
bidding the acceptance or retention of such as were "still held 
in bondage," and thereupon the practice obtained of confer- 
ring freedom upon those slaves who served as substitutes for 
their masters, or voluntarily. 

Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina, on one occasion moved 
Congress that "all negroes be dismissed from the Continental 
armies." This was overwhelmingly defeated and, when later, 
Congress issued an order directing that negro soldiers who 
were slaves should be rejected. General Washington replied 
that the negroes "are very much dissatisfied at being dis- 
carded, and, as it is apprehended that refusal to use them 
may induce them to seek employment from the enemy, I have 
taken the liberty to suspend your resolution concerning them." 
Congress thereupon reconsidered and repealed the resolution. 

After the battle of Monmouth Washington's army returns 
showed 755 colored soldiers present for duty, being about a 
tenth of the army. In 1YY8 Phode Island passed an act 
enlisting all men of color of the draft age with a provision 
that those who were slaves should be free from the time of 
joining. This was followed by Massachusetts and ISTew 


York. Sir Henry Clinton^ the British Commaiider-in-Chief, 
issued a proclamation offering bounties to all negroes who 
would desert to his standard, which was also done by Corn- 
wallis and Tarleton in the South. Mr. Jefferson wrote that 
this action had cost Virginia 30,000 able bodied slaves in one 
year. To meet the British offer, Madison, Generals Greene 
and Lincoln, and other leading patriots advocated a general 
recruiting of the Continental forces by offering emancipation 
to the slaves. This was not, however, generally done, but 
there was a considerable number of slaves who obtained free- 
dom by serving as substitutes for their owners or their sons 
in the army. 

In the War of 1812 there were a great many colored men 
who served in the ranks, thruout the country, but there is no 
available record that at that time any slaves in the South 
were admitted as substitutes or otherwise on condition of free- 
dom. There were a good many who went over to the enemy 
on condition of freedom, and two battalions of negroes served, 
at 'New Orleans under Jackson. In New York two regi- 
ments of "freemen of color" were raised to receive the 
same pay and allowance as whites, and there was a proviso 
that "any able bodied slave" in that State might enlist "with 
the written assent of his master and mistress who were to 
receive his pay," while the negro was to be set free on his 
honorable discharge. After the battle of l^ew Orleans Gen- 
eral Andrew Jackson, in his proclamation, bore emphatic tes- 
timony to the part borne by negTO troops in that great vic- 
tory and their bravery and good conduct during their service 
under him. The British had two regiments of West India 
negToes in that battle. 

During the Civil War 180,000 negroes served in the Union 
Army. Some of these were from the North, and served either 
under the draft or as volunteers, but by far the gTcatest part 
of them were fugitive slaves who served in northern regi- 
ments, either as substitutes, or upon payment of bounties given 


by townships and counties in the l^orth to fill up their re- 
quired quotas under the draft. 

The Confederate government was asked by General Lee 
in the fall of 1864 to conscript slaves as soldiers, offering them 
freedom, but this was opposed by President Davis and others, 
and the act did not pass till February, 1865, and only a few 
companies were raised. We often conscripted free negroes, 
and sometimes slaves, to build forts and breastworks. Those 
surrounding Raleigh were thus built. 

It is believed that with very rare exceptions the colored 
Union troops in the Civil War served as separate organiza- 
tions, as now, tho officered by white men. This was true dur- 
ing our Spanish War in 1898. This State, however, which 
sent two regiments of white soldiers to that war, sent one 
regiment of colored troops, officered entirely by colored offi- 
cers, from its Colonel, James H. Young, down. 

In the United States Regular Army, ever since the Civil 
War, there has been several regiments of colored troops, but 
these have been officered entirely by white men, as only one 
colored man has ever graduated at West Point. 

In the present war there are probably 200,000 colored 
troops in the United States Army, most of whom have white 
officers, tho there are some company officers of color. The 
British and French have many colored troops, of whom the 
Senegalese are exceptionally brave. It is related that when 
some American colored troops landed at a French port they 
were delighted to see colored troops ashore, and commenced 
talking to them in English, supposing that all negroes spoke 
our tongue. They proved, however, to be troops from French 

The conduct of the negro troops has generally been good in 
peace, as well as in war. There was a painful exception in 
the emeute at Brownsville, Texas, some years ago, and also in 
the recent riot in a colored regiment at San Antonio, for 
which some thirty or forty of the colored soldiers were hanged 


by the govenunent for mutiny. It seems that on both occa- 
sions whiskey was at the bottom of the trouble. 

The history of our wars shows that colored men, when 
well led by competent officers, have always shown up as brave 
soldiers. The two instances named of misconduct seem to be 
exceptions to their general good conduct and orderly behavior 
in time of peace. 

What is said above refers only to colored slaves. Those 
acquainted with our Colonial history know, however, that 
there were many Indian slaves in the Colonies, especially in 
'New England, and some of them in ISTorth Carolina, and not 
a few white slaves. The latter were usually sent to this 
country from Great Britain to serve out a sentence for crime 
and sometimes for debt. Among these white slaves was the 
Lieutenant Colonel of a ISTorth Carolina regiment, who on 
his march to Germantown, with his regiment in 1777 was 
humiliated by being recognized and claimed in Maryland as 
a slave, he having escaped thence to ^orth Carolina where he 
had served an honorable career and risen in life. Massachu- 
setts sold most of her Indian slaves in the West Indies, bring- 
ing in return cargoes from Guinea of Africans, who they said 
were better adapted for work. Among those who, after the 
Pequot War, Massachusetts sold to the West Indies, were the 
wife and son of King Philip, the former being the daughter 
of Massasoit, who had been the best friend whom the Cclonists 
of that Province had ever had, and who had rendered the 
whites notable service. 

Probably the most distinguished colored soldier was Gen- 
eral Thomas Alexandre Dumas who served under l^apoleon, 
and at one time was commander in chief of the army of the 
Eastern Pyrenees. He was the son af a West India negro 
mother, and to his son Alexandre Dumas the elder, the 
famous novelist, we are indebted for the famous novels "Monte 
Cristo," the "Three Muskeeters," with its famous trio Por- 
thos, Athos, and Aramis, and the greatest of all D^Artaguan, 


"The Forty-five Guardsmen/' and others. Hannibal and his 
Carthaginians were not negToes, though from Africa. 

The free negroes voted in l^^orth Carolina till 1835, and 
under the Federal Constitution three-fifths of the slave popu- 
lation was taken as a basis in the apportionment for members 
of CongTess. Republican disgust at finding that by emanci- 
pation, which made negroes freemen^ the basis was changed 
and twenty new me^mbers of Congress had been given to the 
South, is said to have been a strong motive for passing the 
XV Amendment. 



At the unveiling of the moniunent and statue to the Con- 
federate dead at Morganton, 22 January, 1918, the address 
was delivered by Chief Justice Clark. The following extract 
from his speech is of more than passing interest : 

As against 2,850,000 men in ttie Union line, the Soutli, first and last, 
was able to send to the front about 650,000. Of these North Carolina 
sent 125,000, or nearly one-fifth of the whole number. Of these, 
43,000 of our best and bravest, being one-third, came not home again. 

They sleep where the silver Shenandoah sweeps along; some rest 
on the heights at Gettysburg ; some sleep by the sounding sea at 
Charleston; others at Vicksburg, 

"By the great inland river, whence the fleets of iron have fled, 
And the green grass quivers above the ranks of the dead" ; 

on the plains of Chickamauga and where the Georgian pines are bare ; 
around Petersburg, in the swamps of the Chickahominy and where 
Potomac's "breezes answering low sooth many a soldier's endless 

Across the fields of yesterday they come back to us, as we knew 
and remember them, in all the splendor of their young manhood. Age 
has not withered them. Time and trouble have not touched them. 
The Roman poet said that it was "sweet to die for one's country." 
It was glorious for them to pass in the prime of their powers, with 
the sunlight of victory on their faces and fronting the morning. 
They died in the full assurance and confident hope of our ultimate 
success. They saw not the torn and tattered battle flags furled for- 
ever at Appomattox. The bugle did not ring out for them, as for 
you, the final call to stack arms. No drums beat for them the 
retreat. Their ears caught only the sound of the reveille. They live 
in immortal youth. 



By Maky Hilliard Hinton 

During these exciting and troublous times of the world's 
existence when woman is constantly engaged in the service of 
her country, helping in ways heretofore unknown, giving 
freely of her time in unstinted service and keeping her purse 
ever open, it will be interesting, perhaps, to look backward 
thru the pages of history and gather notes of the spirit of 
patriotism and heroism of our brave and loyal women patriots, 
whose deeds have been recorded, and whose sufferings show 
what our foremothers endured, that they may inspire us to 
bear nobly whatever trials may be in store. While they were 
subjected to innumerable privations their lot seems incom- 
parable with the barbarities imposed by "the fiery Hun" upon 
the weaker population of grief-stricken Belgium and the 
devastated regions of ISTorthern France and Poland. It was 
with the British and Tories we were waging a civilized war, 
not barbarians whose hearts hesitate at no cruelties. That 
struggle for independence fortunately took place one hundred 
and forty-eight years ago, during which period the United 
States of America have developed into one of the leading 
world powers, whereby she is now able to express to her splen- 
did ally — France — the gratitude of an appreciative people 
and to render to her mother country the duty of a worthy 

l^orth Carolina's record of her heroic women is indeed 
meager, and many of her heroines are known by name only 
with sparse local tradition as proof their bravery. Of quite 
a number just one brave incident can be cited, which can be 
accepted as indicative of their conduct during the Revolu- 
tionary War. Among the latter can be found the names of 
Mrs. Elizabeth Forbis, Mrs. Mary Morgan, Mrs. Rachel 
Denny, Mrs. Sarah Logan, Mrs. Elizabeth McGraw, Miss 
Ann Fergus, Mrs. Margaret Caruthers and Miss Margaret 


Caruthers, in The Old North State in 1776, has preserved 
their records from oblivion, but since that rare volume has 
long since been out of print and few copies are to be found, to 
give these noble women further recognition, this brief sketch 
is presented thru the columns of The Booklet. 

Among the staunch and brave patriots who were mortally 
wounded at the Battle of Guilford Court House was Colonel 
Arthur Forbis. In that same engagement, under his com- 
mand, was his brother-in-law, Thomas Wiley, also a brave, 
unwavering Whig, who was wounded. Possessing similar 
loyalty to the patriotic cause, Elizabeth Forbis, nee Wiley, 
wife of Colonel Forbis, bore with fortitude and patience her 
severe and continued trials and sufferings. Coming from 
such stock, it is no marvel that she displayed unusual traits 
of character, of which the following is illustrative. 

Several days after the Battle of Guilford Court House 
Thomas Morgan, who lived a mile and a half west of the 
Forbis home, found wandering on his premises two horses 
whose "bobbed tails" showed that they were the property of 
the British and Tories, since the horses of the American cav- 
alry were distinguished from that of the enemy by having 
long tails. These he felt he had a right to appropriate, for 
the British and Tories had seized all available property of 
the Whigs. 

Mr. Morgan, knowing that Mrs. Forbis was now in dire 
need of a horse and in a destitute condition, presented her 
with one the morning following. Colonel Forbis was either 
dead or dying of his wounds ; the Tories had cleared the plan- 
tation of almost all cattle, provisions, gTain, etc. ; her eldest 
boy was a mere lad of thirteen or fourteen years and could 
only plough a gentle animal, her sole means of making a crop. 
This gift she accepted thankfully and immediately put her 
son to the plough handle. However, on the next day as he 
was turning furrows in a corn field and the mother was drop- 
ping corn after the plough and covering it with a hoe, two 


jGTing men appeared on the scene and demanded the return 
of the horse then in the plough, one claiming it was his own. 
Mrs. Forbis did not dream the men were from the British 
Army, then thirty or forty miles south of that locality on the 
way to Wilmington. With this demand she flatly refused to 
comply. It was repeated two or three times, she still refus- 
ing to obey, when he ordered the lad to take the horse from 
the plough. She forbade her son to do so, he standing reso- 
lute, looking from her to the enemy, respecting the one and 
fearing the other, but obeying the mother. Thereupon the 
man stepped forward to unfasten the traces himself, and 
instantly she sprang in front of him, with a hoe raised high 
above her head, and with a firm expression and determined 
manner, declared that if he touched the horse "she would 
split his head with the hoe." This act produced the desired 
effect — the horse remained in her plough and was never mo- 
lested again. 

Mrs. Forbis lived to enjoy the independence of her country 
many years, attaining an honorable old age, noted for her 
cheerful disposition and as a warm-hearted Christian char- 

Of Colonel Forbis' sister and near neighbor, Mrs. Mary 
Morgan, wife of Thomas Morgan, this daring feat is related : 

At the time the British Army was encamped on the south 
side of South Buffalo Creek, the same side on which Thomas 
Morgan lived, on the plantation of Ralph Gorrell, Esq., and 
from this camp one day a party sallied forth bent on plunder, 
taking in Colonel Paisley's plantation and later the Morgan 
home, in the absence of the owner, only Mrs. Morgan and her 
little brood being present. As the place had frequently 
experienced visitations of marauding soldiers but little could 
be found. Still they ransacked the dwelling from cellar to 
garret, as well as the kitchen and smoke-house, corn-crib and 
barn, leaving naught in their wake. In the interval Mrs. 
Morgan's active mind was at work and the thought occurred 
to her to retaliate by removing the valise from the saddle of 


the commanding officer and dropping it in an inside corner 
of the fence among the tall weeds, a few panels below the 
horse from which it was taken. As they prepared to leavo 
the sun had nearly reached the horizon, and five or six miles 
lay between them and their camp, there was considerable 
hurry and confusion which caused the officer in command to 
overlook the loss of his valise. On opening it, Mrs. Morgan 
found it to be filled with fine linen shirts, collars, cravats, and 
other articles which in value far exceeded that which she had 

The true Irish wit displayed by Mrs. Rachel Denny has 
amused many a listener. She was the wife of Walter Denny, 
a strict elderly Scotch-Irish Presbyterian, who dwelt far 
down on l!Torth Buffalo Creek, as staunch in his Whig princi- 
ples as true to his religious faith and highly esteemed thru- 
out the neighborhood. During his absence from home when 
the British Army was near by, a foraging party under com- 
mand of the proper officer invaded his home, pillaging every 
repository of his possession. During this trying ordeal the 
old lady, his wife, sat by utterly helpless in the presence of the 
commanding officer, who sat near amusing himself with her. 
Thus she saw flour, meat and meal as well as blankets she 
had made with her own hands seized by ruthless hands. The 
officer began by asking her where her husband was, to which 
she replied she did not know. If she did know would she 
tell, was the next question. Kindly she said "ISTo, and no 
gentleman of honorable feelings would ever ask or expect 
such a thing." When asked if she was not afraid that he 
would be caught and hung as a rebel, she replied, "as he was 
engaged in a good cause, he was in good hands, and she hoped 
he would be protected." After cursing her most profanely 
he informed her he thought "the women in that part of the 
country as damned rebels as the men, and that one-half of 
them, at least, ought to be shot or hung." To all this she 
did not reply. 

Spying a Bible and a hymn-book on the table, he exclaimed 


that he presumed "the old man prayed every day in his 
family." To this Mrs. Denny added that when at home 
they usually had family prayers. "Well^ does he ever pray 
for King George ?" followed in a sneering, haughty air. She 
gave an indirect answer. He then told her emphatically she 
must tell him "He must pray for King George." Very indif- 
ferently she replied that perhaps a good man might pray for 
the salvation of his soul, "not for the success of his arms ; 
for he had sinned so long and so much that there was very- 
little encouragement to pray even for his salvation^, and to 
pray for the success of his arms when they were employed to 
oppress and to enforce obedience to unrighteous authority, 
would be praying in direct opposition to thei instructions of 
the Bible, which would be offensive to God as it would be 
useless to man." Whereupon the officer told her that her 
husband must pray for the king or be treated as a rebel. 
"Ah, indeed," said Mrs. Denny, "he has been denounced as 
a rebel long ago, and no thanks to you nor King George either 
that he still lives to defend his country." "Well," he re- 
plied, "do you tell him that he must pray for King George 
tonight, for I intend to come or send men to ascertain, and 
if he does not, I will have him taken and hung up to the limb 
of that oak tree in the yard." "Aye, fa'th," retorted the 
brave old dame, with consummate nonchalance, "Aye, fa'th, 
an' monny a prayer has been wasted upon King George." 

The young Lieutenant, baffled, summoned his men as the 
sun was fast sinking in the west and quickly galloped back to 
camp, taking with them considerable plunder, but by no 
means all of Mr. Denny's abundance. 

During the stormy days of the Revolution the women were 
just as willing as the men to suffer and share privations with 
them. The country being thinly settled, they were much 
isolated and had to face innumerable perils. Frequently the 
quick wit and ready, proper word of some intelligent woman 
achieved a decided triumph. To this class could be assigned 
Mrs. Sarah Logan, noted for her repartee, excellent sense and 


kindness of heart, and who was universally esteemed. She 
was a native of ISTorth Carolina, though after her marriage 
she lived in South Carolina, near the dividing line. Many 
incidents occurred that testified to her patriotism, judgment, 
character and ready wit. This one related here in particular 
is illustrative of her varied experiences. 

One morning in l^ovemher when the air was cold and 
frosty four or five Tories swooped down upon her home in the 
absence of her husband. They were known to her by sight 
and name, though they were not of her class. She spied 
them as soon as they entered the lane and at once guessed 
their purpose. She instantly resolved to devise some scheme 
by which to safeguard her property against their pillage. 

They rode up and hitched their horses to the fence within 
a few feet of the house and entered without ceremony. Mrs. 
Logan feigTied a cordial welcome and invited them to be 
seated, adding that such cold weather, after a long ride, they 
must be cold and insisted on their sitting nearer the fire, on 
which she had more wood piled. She inquired of the health 
of their families, of the neighborhood ; in fact, received these 
avowed enemies bent on pillage as graciously as though they 
were friends. She apologized for the upturned state of her 
house, claiming that her duties of housecleaning had been 
neglected for a sick child and was just so engaged as they 
approached, that if they would excuse her giving annoyance 
she would proceed and finish in two or three minutes. She 
swept vigorously, raising a cloud of dust. She next began 
making up the bed, beating the feathers and seizing sheets and 
bedspread and blankets, taking each at a time, she stood on 
the door-step and shook them violently, making a great noise 
and flutter as each spread out on the breeze. The horses 
became alarmed, one broke loose, then another, until all sev- 
ered their bridles and galloped in every direction. The 
Tories, realizing that their steeds were more valuable thtm any 
plunder to be procured at the Logans', took to their heels in 
hot pursuit, catching, as they bolted, Mrs. Logan's regrets — 


"very sorry" — "-wiiat a pity." Thus kindness proved of more 
service than the sword or a sharp retort. 

There lived in Surry County^ near Mount Airy^ during 
the "Old War" (as the old people termed the Revolution ) 
Mrs Eliabeth McGrav^. She v^as prior to her marriage to 
Jacob McGraw a Miss Waller, daughter of George Waller of 
Henry County, Virginia. Both she and her husband were 
staunch Whigs; therefore their home was naturally an objec- 
tive point with the bands of Tories scouring that section. 
Still an account of on© raid is handed down in that locality. 
It occurred on a bitterly cold night when Jacob McGraw 
was away from home and his wife was the sole white person 
on the place. When she ascertained they were approaching 
she made all the negroes who could leave run and seek some 
hiding place, and in the meantime she engaged busily in 
wrapping the pickaninnies in the tow that had been hackled 
from flax that day, dressed and secreted them in a closet, just 
finishing as the Tories burst into the house. They searched 
the place from top to bottom, but, strange to say, missed locat- 
ing the little negi'oes concealed in the tow. They appro- 
priated all valuables and lastly took from the cupboard Mrs. 
McGraw's shining pewter plates. Thru the rims of each 
they bored holes and ran a hickory withe which they carried 
along with them. Years after Mrs. McGraw had the pecu- 
liar experience of taking dinner at a neighbor's when the 
meal was served from her own pewter plates with holes in the 
rims. She attained a great age, dying near Mount Airy in 

Even amid the horrors of war people can and do relax 
from their responsibilities and sufferings long enough to 
engage in diverting festivities, better perhaps for the change. 
During Major Craig's occupancy of Wilmington he and his 
officers attended many balls and other entertainments. Tra- 
dition still keeps alive in New Hanover amusing things that 
took place at these social affairs. One anecdote, though ludi- 
crous, that has not been lost, concerned Miss Ann Fergus, a 


lass of a wealthy Scotch family of fine social standing. She 
possessed a superior intellect, was well educated. Exceed- 
ingly tall — five feet ten inches — but when wearing the high 
heel slippers of that period, as she would have done at a ball, 
she must have measured fully six feet. One of her brothers 
was in the Patriot Army, possibly also a lover. One evening 
she attended a ball at which a number of British officers were 
present. Among them was an exceedingly diminutive man, 
full of conceit^ who was most persistent in his attentions to 
the American ladies^ being both impertinent and presumptu- 
ous, as his conduct to Miss Fergus proved. During the even- 
ing he sought her out and asked for a kiss. With all serious- 
ness and perhaps hauteur she replied "Yes, he might have 
one, if he could take one without getting upon a stool." 
Whereupon he tiptoed and stretched his neck and she drew 
herself up to her full height, and he "^couldn't come it." The 
whole company present were intensely amused at so ludicrous 
a spectacle. Ridicule caused his instant flight as well as 
brought to an end his attentions to American belles. 

It is not often that a woman possesses such spirit of daring 
and bravery that she is willing to attack an enemy of the 
other sex, assuming the role of aggressor. Of such type was 
Mrs. Margaret (Gillespie) Caruthers^ a native of Lancaster 
County, Pennsylvania, who settled with her husband, James 
Caruthers, in middle !N^orth Carolina some time prior to the 
Revolution. Her family included four sons and several 
daughters, all eventually becoming useful citizens and church 
members. Three of her sons served in the Revolution. The 
eldest, Robert, being a partisan leader, won the rank of cap- 
tain and was very active, being almost always on duty. The 
youngest, who was retained at home to protect his parents 
and attend to the farm, met death at the hands of Tories dis- 
guised as Indians, as strong circumstantial evidence proved. 
His dead body was found by a creek on the plantation almost 
in sight of the house. He had gone to a neighbor's, two miles 
distant on an errand. The report of a gun drew his mother 


and sisters to tlie spot to find Mni dead, scalped with a bloody 
knife bearing the name of a neighbor, lying near his head. 
Ever after when the said neighbor met a member of the 
family his countenance expressed guilt and he manifestly 
shunned them. Thus deprived of her main support, with her 
husband, not infirm but passed the draftable age, compelled 
for safety to conceal himself, she found herself unprotected, 
especially during the trying year of 1Y80. Her wonderful 
self-possession never failed her in time of danger. Her 
firmness and energy of character, combined with the "spirit 
of '76," rendered her far from helpless in emergencies. 

I^ot long after the tragedy just recounted, two Tories, 
neighbors, came to plunder her premises. They at once at- 
tempted to steal a fine young black mare, of unusual beauty 
and splendid qualities, which they brought out and hitched to 
a shade tree on the west side of the house." After packing up 
all provisions, blankets, etc., to be found in the house they 
entered the corn-crib to fill their bags with corn. The quaint 
form of crib of that day had an opening thru which a man 
must thrust one leg, next his head "and with his body laid 
beside the projecting leg force himself thru, with the other 
leg resting on the floor, and, at the same time, as it was 
raised a foot or two above the ground, held by the side with 
the left hand lest when the center of gravity passed the sill, 
he might go faster and further than he wanted." The thieves 
were busy over their grain when Mrs. Caruthers hid the black 
mare in the cellar, locking the door. Then she took a stick 
of hickory, intended for an axe-handle, laid by to season in 
the chimney corner, twice the size of a dressed article, which 
she concealed under her apron and stood at the corner of the 
crib. As each appeared she beat upon him so successfully 
that he could neither defend himself nor return the blows, 
and both fled in haste, leaving their plunder behind and never 
again did they dare to enter the Caruthers home. 

The name of Betsy Dowdy is universally known and her 
bravery can never be forgotten, while the name of Margaret 


McBride is familiar to comparatively few and of the service 
rendered her country little is known. As her surname im- 
plies she was of a Scotch-Irish family. Hanty McBride, a 
resident of Gruilford^ was a man of good standing in the neigh- 
borhood where he lived and died, some seven or eight miles 
south of Greensboro, midway between Alamance and Buffalo 
creeks. He was a member of Dr. Caldwell's congregation, 
and a true Whig. Too old for military duty, he served his 
country when possible. His large family was comprised of 
nearly all daughters. Of one son, Isaiah, the oldest, we 
learn that he was in several campaigns. 

In 1781 Margaret, or Maggie, as her family and neigh- 
bors called her, was a pretty lass of thirteen or fourteen sum- 
mers and well grown for her years. She was full of life, but 
discreet and had the courage to express her convictions. 
With winsome ways and abounding enthusiasm, she was nat- 
urally a favorite. She gloried in being a Whig and hated 
the Tories. A certain tract of land four or five miles wide, 
ten or twelve in length, between N^orth and South Buffalo 
creeks, lay to the north and northwest of Hantz McBride's. 
This included the present site of Greensboro and ran along 
both sides of the Hillsboro road to Buffalo Bridge. This was 
not inhabited and was traversed only by roads connecting the 
two settlements. As pine was the principal growth it was 
called the "Pine Woods," or ''Pine Barrens." People did 
not settle there because the land was considered too thin. It 
afforded fine pasturage for cattle. At intervals rich and well- 
watered glades existed like oases of the desert. In the first 
days of autumn, 1Y81, a band of Tories from southern Guil- 
ford or northern Randolph pitched camp in one of these fairy 
dells. The Whigs were thick on the outskirts of the "Bar- 
rens" and some were wavering. These the Tories in question 
visited and exerted no good influence over them. The true Pa- 
triots became uneasy— something must be done, and accord- 
ingly a band bent on retaliation was organized, though none 
knew the exact location of the camp. It was thought that the 


McBrides knew of it if any one did, so to that home they 
repaired one evening just after dark. Hantz McBride, of 
course, was absent, the mother, Maggie and other children 
were there. The captain, after ascertaining they were 
staunch Whigs, inquired whether there was a Tory camp in 
the "Piney Woods." She understood there was. When 
asked for directions to find it, she answered as intelligently 
and as best she could, little Maggie by her side now then 
adding a word of explanation. The captain observed her 
interest and said courteously, "Well, now, my little Miss, 
could you go along to show us the way ?" This startled her. 
Objections she urged — going off with a party of soldiers, all 
strangers ; then the fighting, etc. The captain insisted. She 
reckoned she might go; they must promise not to fire on the 
Tories till she left them. They consented, so she mounted 
behind the commander and they rode off at full speed. It 
was agreed that she should remain with the band until they 
came in sight of the place, when she was to fly back home, it 
being impossible for her to be taken into the battle in the 
darkness. She was firm in her determination to render this 
invaluable service to the Whigs, and never faltered when so 
much was at stake. The spot was familiar to her as she had 
frequently been there when hunting the cows on sunnner 
evenings with the other children. 

As they approached the camp near enough for the sound of 
the horses' feet to be heard, they proceeded with gTeat caution 
and Margaret McBride was straining her eyes and craning 
her neck to ascertain the exact spot. Finally she exclaimed, 
"Yonder they are," and sprang from the captain's horse, 
returning home with the agility of a native of the forest. 
As soon as she alighted on the ground the party dashed for- 
ward at a gallop, took the camp by surprise, firing a good 
volley as a greeting on approach. Before the brave little 
heroine had passed over much ground, she heard the report 
of twenty or thirty pistols and the clash of sabres, with 
shouts of victory and cries of the assailed, all of which made 


her run but the faster. On reaching home she proudly in- 
formed her mother that "those miserable Tories have got a 
lesson tonight which they will not soon forget, and I hope 
they will no longer be a pest and a reproach to the country." 
"Why, my daughter," replied Mrs. McBride, "You didn't 
stay to see what was done ?" "Why, mother, as soon as we 
came in sight, I jumped down and started back as hard as I 
could, but I had come a very little distance— it didn't seem 
to be a minute — till I heard ever so many guns, and then such 
slashing and hallooing — you never heard the like. I just 
know the ugly things are used up, and we shall now be clear 
of them. Well, I do feel sorry for them after all — really 
sorry. Just think how they will be cut up and run off like as 
many sheep-killing dogs ; but th^en they had no business to be 
Tories. If they are so mean and pusillanimous that they 
want to be slaves or foot-pads to King George, let them not 
stay here and try to make us as degTaded as themselves, but 
go to his own country and serve him there. We have no use 
for them here and I am so glad they are gone." 

The Tory den was completely broken up. All that were 
not killed fled, and henceforth the "Pine Barrens" of Guil- 
ford knew neither them nor their like again. 

When Margaret McBride grew to womanhood a few years 
later she married and, with her husband, moved westward 
with the tide of emigration that laid the foundation of some 
of our great States of today, and nothing was known of this 
brave heroine of old Guilford. 

ITorth Carolina can well be proud of her women from the 
earliest days when the hardships and perils of life led by the 
first settlers in the wilderness were patiently borne, during 
the stormy times of the Revolution, of the War between the 
States and, lastly, of the response they are giving to the 
demands of this present-day world conflict. 

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Vol. xvni 

OCTOBER, 1918 

No. 2 

North Carolina Booklet 








History of the Superior and Supreme Courts of North 

Carolina — _ 79 

By Chief Justice Waltee Clakk 

William Bryan of Craven County, Brigadier-General in 

the American Revolution 105 

By WnxiAM Hollisteb 

For Whom Was Edgecombe County Named? 116 

By Gaston Lichtenstein 

Biographical and Geneological Memoranda 120 

By Mes. E. E. Moffitt 


$1.00 THE YEAR 

Entered at the Posloffice at Raleigh, N. C, July 15, 1905. under the Act of 
Congress of March 3, 1 879 

The North Carolina Booklet 

Great Events in North Carolina History 

Volume XVIII of The Booklet will be issued quarterly by the 
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1918. The Booklet will be published in July, October, January, and 
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Editoe : 
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BiOGEAPHicAi. Editor: 
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Isaac Shelby, Part II — Dr. Archibald Henderson. 

Other North Carolina Heroines : Margaret McBride, Mary Morgan, 
Elizabeth McCraw, Elizabeth Forbes, Margaret Caruthers, Ann Fer- 
gus, Rachel Denny — Mary Hilliard Hinton. 

The History of Agriculture in North Carolina — ^Major William A. 

North Carolina's Poetesses, Past and Present — ^Nina Holland Cov- 

Calvin Jones: Physician, Soldier and Freemason — Marshall De- 
Lancey Haywood. 

Reminiscences of Shocco and Jones Springs — Old-fashioned North 
Carolina Summer Resorts. 

History of Orange County, Part II — Frank Nash. 

Woman's War Work: 

(a) Woman's Contribution to the Patriot Cause. 

(b) Woman's Service in the War Between the States — Martha 

H. Haywood. 

History of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. 

General William R. Davie's Mission to France. 

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Historical Book Reviews will be contributed by Mrs. Nina Holland 
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This list of subjects may be changed, as circumstances sometimes 
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Vol. XVni OCTOBER, 1918 No. 2 


North Carolina Booklet 

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While 7ve live zve will cherish, protect and defend her' 

Published by 



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Mbs. Hubert Haywood. 
Mbs. E, E. Moffitt. 
Mb. R. D. W. Conkob. 
De. D. H. Hill. 
Db. William K. Boyd. 
Capt. S. a. Ashe. 
Miss Adelaide L. Fbies. 

Miss Maetha Helen Haywood. 

Db. Richabd Dillabd. 

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Mb. James Spbunt. 

Mb. Marshall DeLancey Haywood. 

Chief Justice Walteb Clabk. 

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Miss Maby Hilliabd Hinton. 
biogbaphical editor : 
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Miss Mary Hilliard Hinton, 
1st Vice-Regent, Raleigh. 

Mrs. Paul H. Lee, 2d Vice- 
Regent, Raleigh. 

Mrs. George P. Pell, Recording 
Secretary, Raleigh. 

Miss Winifred Faison, Corre- 
sponding Secretary, Faison. 

Miss Georgia Hicks, Historian, 

Mrs. Charles Lee Smith, 

Treasurer, Raleigh. 
Mrs. George Ramsey, Registrar, 

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Relics, Raleigh. 
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Bloomsbury Chapter Mrs. Paul H. Lee, Regent. 

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Sir Walter Raleigh Chapter Mrs. I. M. Meekins, Regent. 

General Francis Nash Chapter Miss Rebecca Cameron, Regent. 

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Founder of the Nobth Carolina Society and Regent 1896-1902 : 


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Regent 1902-1906: 


Regent 1906-1910: 

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Regent 1910-1917: 


•Died November 25, 1911. 
tDied December 12. 1904. 

Chief Justice Supreme Court of North Carolina. 

The North Carolina Booklet 

Vol. XVIII OCTOBER, 1918 No. 2 

History of the Superior and Supreme Courts 
of North Carolina 

By Chief Justice Walter Clabk 

Prior to the adoption of our republican form of government 
in 1776 we liad for the colony a supreme common law and 
equity court, styled "The Greneral Court/' which was a trial 
court. There was no court of appeals. The presiding officer 
of this was styled Chief Justice, who presided with an indefi- 
nite number of assistants who were laymen. They were 
probably merely advisers, for there was no statute defining 
their powers. When the Lords Proprietors met at the Cock- 
pit in London on 21 October, 1669, under the fanciful Con- 
stitution drawn up by the famous John Locke, they chose 
Anthony Ashley Cooper, afterwards the famous Earl of 
Shaftesbury, as the Lord Chancellor and first Chief Justice 
of this colony. This was an honorary appointment, and he 
named as his representative John Willoughby as the first 
Chief Justice in this colony. 

The first record that we have of any general court is that 
held in 1694, at the house of Thomas White, tho there must 
have been sessions in the years prior thereto. The Chief 
Justice at that time was also Governor, Thomas Harvey. 
This court held jurisdiction of criminal and common law 
cases, and also as a court of equity. Down to 1868, when 
the distinction between law and equity was abolished, the 
same judges held the courts of law and the courts of equity, 
tho the distinction between the two as separate jurisdictions 
was kept up. 

By the Court Bill of 1746 the seat of government was fixed 
at ISTew Bern. Following the English system, all writs and 
processes were issued from that court, but they were return- 


able and triable before nisi prius ternls to be beld by tbe 
Chief Justice twice a year at tbree points — at Edenton, in 
the ISTorthern Circuit; at Wilmington, in the Southern Cir- 
cuit; and at the courthouse in Edgecombe in the Western 
Circuit. The supreme and principal court continued to be 
held twice a year at 'New Bern, and was styled the General 
Court. This latter consisted of the Chief Justice and three 
Associates appointed by the Governor. In 1Y13 Christopher 
Gale was Chief Justice. He was born in Yorkshire, Eng- 
land, and was the son of the rector of a church. The late 
Colonel George Little of Raleigh was his lineal descendant. 
He was succeeded by Tobias Ejiight, who was accused (but 
acquitted) of complicity with the pirate "Blackbeard," and 
he by Frederick Jones, of indifferent fame. Gale on his 
return from England was again appointed. In 1724 Gov- 
ernor Burrington removed him aad appointed Thomas Pol- 
lock, but the Lords Proprietors reinstated Gale. In 1729 
the Lords Proprietors ceded their rights to the crown, and 
in 1731 Gale was superseded by William Smith, who had 
been educated at an English University, and had been ad- 
mitted to the bar in England. 

Governor Burrington appointed John Palin to succeed 
Smith, and then William Little, who was the son-in-law of 
Gale. On his death Daniel Hamner became Chief Justice, 
who in turn was replaced by William Smith, who had come 
back from England. In 1740 John Montgomery became 
Chief Justice, and was succeeded in 1744 by Edward Mose- 
ley, a man of real ability. He died in 1749, and his suc- 
cessors were in turn Enoch Hall, Eleazer Allen, James Hazel, 
and Peter Henly. 

In 1746 an important change was made by the court law of 
that year. Up to that time the Chief Justice had sat with 
from two to ten assistants who were simply justices of the 
peace, and it is not certain even that all the Chief Justices 
were lav^yers. Even down to the present time, tho in fact 
since 1771, all of the judges of the Superior and Supreme 


Court have been lawyers^ there has never been^ at any time, 
any provision of the Constitution requiring this. Under 
the Act of 1746, however, three associates were appointed in 
lieu of the former lay assistants, and they were required to 
be ^'learned in the law." 

Charles Berry became Chief Justice in 1760, and com- 
mitted suicide in 1766. In 1767 the province was divided 
into five judicial districts — Edenton, IS^ew Bern, Wilmington, 
Halifax, and Hillsboro — in each of which towns a court was 
held twice each year by the Chief Justice and his Associates. 
The Chief Justice was Martin Howard^ and the Associates 
were Richard Henderson and Maurice Moore. Judge Hen- 
derson was the father of Chief Justice Leonard Henderson, 
and Judge Moore was the father of Justice Alfred Moore of 
the United States Supreme Court. Chief Justice Martin 
Howard, on the outbreak of the Revolution, sided with the 
Tories and returned to Rhode Island, whence he had come. 
The Court Act of 1767 expired at the end of five years, and 
by reason of disagreement between the Governor and the 
Legislature there were no courts in the province between 1773 
and 1777. After August, 1775, till the Judiciary Act, 
adopted 15 JSTovember, 1777, by the new State Government, 
the judicial functions were discharged by the committees of 
public safety. 

Under the Provincial Government the Chief Justice was 
a member of the Upper House of the General Assembly, and 
also aided largely in the executive functions. On the other 
hand the Governor granted letters of administration, probate 
of wills, and had other judicial jurisdiction. The Constitu- 
tion of 1776, on the contrary, made both the executive and 
judiciary elective by the General Assembly, which was chosen 
annually. The Constitution of 1868 made the Supreme and 
Superior Courts constitutional offices and beyond repeal by 
legislative action. It also made the judges elective by the 
people for the term of eight years. 


By the Judiciary Act of 1777 the State was divided into 
six districts — ^Wilmington, JSTew Bern, Edenton, Halifax, 
Hillsboro, and Salisbury. In 1782 Morganton was added, 
and in 1787 Fayetteville, making eight in all. In each of 
these a court was held twice each year by the three judges 
jointly. The first judges selected were Samuel Spencer of 
Anson, Samuel Ashe of JSTew Hanover, and James Iredell 
of Chowan. Iredell, who was later a Justice of the United 
States Supreme Court, soon resigned, and was succeeded by 
John Williams of GranviUe. Judge Ashe was elected Gov- 
ernor in 1795, but Spencer served till his death in 1794, and 
Williams died in 1799. Judge Spencer's death was singiilar. 
In old age he was asleep on a warm day in a chair under the 
shade of a tree. A turkey gobbler enraged by the red hand- 
kerchief which the judge had placed over his face to keep off 
the flies, assaulted him, causing his death. 

In 1790 Halifax, Edenton, ^ew Bern, and Wilmington 
districts were constituted the Eastern Biding, and Morgan- 
ton, Salisbury, Fayetteville, and Hillsboro the Western. The 
number of judges was increased to four, by the election of 
Judge Spruce McKay, and two judges were assigned to hold 
the courts, jointly, in each riding. 

The Constitution of 1776 provided that the General Assem- 
bly should by joint ballot appoint judges of the Supreme 
Court who should hold during good behavior. The General 
Assembly seemed to consider that, there being no appellate 
court, the Superior Court filled this requirement, for there 
was no appellate court until one was created in 1799, consist- 
ing of all the Superior Court Judges, to continue for one 
year, the object being to try James Glasgow, Secretary of 
State, and others for fraud in the issuance of land scrip in 
Tennessee issued to Revolutionary soldiers. At the expira- 
tion of one year the act was continued in force by chapter 12, 
Laws 1801, which provided, among other things, section 3 : 
"1^0 attorney should be allowed to speak or admitted as 
counsel in the aforesaid court." This was a repetition of a 


similar prejudice against lawyers which found expression 
in Locke's "Fundainental Constitutions of Carolina," March, 
1669, which provided, section 70, that no one could plead 
for another in any court for money or reward. We have 
outlived those days tho there is still some prejudice naturally 
surviving against so necessary and influential a profession 
as ours. 

This court was styled the "Court of Conference." In 

1804 the court was required to file written opinions, and in 

1805 the title was changed to the "Supreme Court," a tardy 
recognition of the constitutional provision of 1776, and the 
sheriff of Wake County was made marshal of the court. 

In 1806 the ridings were increased to six by the election 
of two additional judges, and a Superior Court for the first 
time was required to be held twice a year in the courts in 
each county by a single judge. TiU 1856 these judges met 
and themselves allotted the ridings, the only restriction being 
that no judge should hold the same riding twice in succession. 
In 1857 this was changed to require the judges to hold every 
district in the whole State in regular rotation. By the Con- 
stitution of 1868 judges of the Superior Court each held only 
his own district. In 1878 this was changed back to require 
the Superior Court judges to ride the entire State in rotation. 
In 1910 the number of districts having been increased to 20, 
it was felt to be a hardship that a judge should ride his own 
circuit only one time in twenty, and that it was an anomaly 
that a judge should be required for nineteen-twentieths of 
his time to preside over people who had had no hand in his 
nomination, and the State, as in 1790, was divided into two 
divisions, the judges to rotate in holding only the districts of 
their respective divisions. Further changes in that direction 
are desirable and will doubtless be made. 

In 1910 the judges hearing appeals in conference were au- 
thorized to elect a Chief Justice, and John Louis Taylor was 
the first and only judge to fill that position. A seal and 
motto were directed to be established by the court and the 


right of appeal was prescribed. Any two judges of the six, 
sitting in conference at Raleigh, was a quorum. 

In IsTovember, 1818, the Supreme Court, contemplated 
forty-two years before by the Constitution of 17Y6, was at 
last created by legislative enactment, the bill being introduced 
by Hon. William Gaston, afterwards one of the most illus- 
trious members of the court. The salary of the judges was 
fixed at $2,500 each, the salary of the Governor at that time 
being $1,900, and the salary of the SiTperior Court judges, 
previously $1,650, was raised to $1,800. The judges of the 
Superior and Supreme Court were elected by the Legislature 
and held for life till 1868, when these courts were created in 
the Constitution, without liability of abolishment by the Leg- 
islature as formerly, and the judges were made elective by 
the people for the term of eight years. 

The Supreme Court, created in 1818, began its existence 
1 January, 1819. Its first session was held 5 January, 1819. 
John Louis Taylor, Leonard Henderson, and John Hall were 
elected, who chose Taylor for Chief Justice. John Louis 
Taylor was at that time the oldest judge in commission on the 
Superior Court bench, having been elected in 1798. He was 
bom in London of Irish parentage, 1 March, 1769. At 
twelve years of age he was brought to this country by his 
elder brother, and received his education in part at William 
and Mary College in Virginia, but left before graduation. 
He was admitted to the bar in 1788, located in FayetteviUe, 
and was chosen a member of the Legislature from that town, 
which elected a borough member, for four terms. He re- 
moved to 'New Bern in 1796. He died in Ealeigh in Janu- 
ary, 1829. 

Leonard Henderson was born in that part of Granville 
County which is now Vance, in 1772. His sister married 
Spruce McKay, already mentioned, and his niece became the 
wife of Judge Boyden of the ISTorth Carolina Supreme Court. 
He was elected to the Superior Court in 1808 and resigned 


in 1816. Elected to the Supreme Court as above, he became 
Chief Justice in 1829 and died in August, 1833. 

John Hall, the third member of the court, was the senior 
of the other two, having been born in Augusta County, 
Virginia, in May, 1Y67. His father was a native of Ireland. 
He was a graduate of William and Mary College. He re- 
mjoved to Warrenton, 1^. C, in 1792, and in 1800 was 
elected a judge of the Superior Court, and of the Supreme 
Court as above stated, on its organization. He resigned in 
December, 1832, and died in January, 1833. 

On the death of Chief Justice Taylor, John D. Toomer 
was appointed by the Governor to the bench, and Judge 
Henderson was elected by his associates, Chief Justice. 

In the meantime Archibald D. Murphey, of the Superior 
Court, under a provision in the act creating the court, was 
detailed by the Grovemor, by special commission, to sit in 
the cases where any one of the three incumbents was disquali- 
fied to sit because of having been counsel in any cause. 
Judge Murphey was thus assigned by Governor Branch and 
sat in several cases. His concurrence with Chief Justice 
Taylor against Judge Hall's dissent sustained the validity 
of the Moses Grifiin will, under which ISTew Bern has ever 
since possessed the "Griffin School." Judge Murphey has 
always been vei*y dear to the people of this State. He was 
the son of Colonel Archibald Murphey, a Revolutionary sol- 
dier of Caswell County. He was born in 1777 and graduated 
at the University of I^orth Carolina with the highest distinc- 
tion in 1799. From 1812 to 1818 by annual election he 
was Senator from Orange. He was the originator of the sys- 
tem of internal improvements and common schools in this 
State. He purposed to write a history of ISTorth Carolina. 
In 1818 he narrowly missed election to the Supreme Court 
and was chosen to fill one of the vacancies on the Superior 
Court. His oration before the two literary societies of the 
University of ISTorth Carolina in 1827 was the first of a long 
series of these and has never been sui'passed by any. Under 


the conmion law barbarism of imprisonirient for debt, this 
distinguished man, who reflects so much honor on his State, 
was for some months in Guilford jail, without any fault on his 
part. He died in 1832. 

John D. Toomer was born in Wilmington, March, 1834; 
was educated in part at the University of ISTorth Carolina, but 
did not graduate. He was elected judge of the Superior 
Coui't in 1818, but soon resigned. On the death of Chief 
Justice Taylor in 1829 he was appointed by Governor Owen 
to the Supreme Court till the Legislature met, which chose 
Thomas Ruffin to succeed him. Judge Toomer was after- 
wards in the State Senate and a member of the Constitutional 
Convention of 1835. In 1836 he was again elected judge of 
the Superior Court, but resigned in 1840. 

Thomas Ruffin was bom in Virginia in I>rovember, 1787. 
He was the son of a Methodist minister. He was educated 
at Princeton University. He studied law under Judge Mur^ 
phey and was admitted to the bar in 1808, locating in Hills- 
boro. In 1813, 1815, and 1816 he was a member of the 
House of Commons from the borough of Hillsboro and in the 
last-named year was Speaker, and was chosen judge of the 
Superior Court, but resigned after two years service. The 
first seven volumes of ISTorth Carolina Reports down to the 
creation of the separate Supreme Court, 1 January, 1819, 
were by volunteer reporters. The act creating the court 
authorized the court to appoint the reporter. The first of 
these was Judge Murphey. Later Judge Ruffin was one of 
the reporters. In the summer of 1825 he was again elected 
judge of the Superior Court, but resigned after three years 
service, when in 1828 he was chosen president of the State 
Bank at Raleigh. In December, 1829, he was chosen by the 
Legislature to the Supreme Court. On the death of Chief 
Justice Henderson in 1833 and the appointment of Judge 
Gaston, he was chosen by his associates Chief Justice, and 
served for nineteen years, resigning from the court in 1852. 
In 1858, on the death of his successor. Chief Justice ISTash, 


he was called by the almost unanimous vote of the General 
Assembly, tho then in his 7 2d year, again to the Supreme 
bench, and took his place as Associate Justice. Eighteen 
months later he again resigned and died in 1870 in his 83d 
year. He raised a family of thirteen children. One of his 
sons, Thomas Euffin, Jr., became a judge of the Superior 
and Supreme Courts. 

Joseph J. Daniel, bom in Halifax County in 1784, was at 
the State University, but did not graduate. He studied law 
under General William R. Davie at Halifax. He repre- 
sented that borough and the county in the General Assembly. 
He was elected to the Superior Court in 1816 and, after six- 
teen years of service, on the death of Judge Hall was elected 
to the Supreme Court. He died in February, 1848. His 
opinions are notable for brevity and point. He died in 1848. 

For eleven years, 1833 to 1844, Rufiin, Daniel and Gaston 
sat together on the Supreme Court bench, and it has never 
been surpassed in ability and reputation. Yet that court 
rendered an erroneous decision, Hohe v. Henderson, 15 'E. C, 
1 (in 1833), which gave infinite trouble till, after seventy 
years, it was overruled. It held that an office was property. 
This decision was not followed by any other State and its 
doctrine was denied by the United States Supreme Court. 
Still such was the veneration felt for the court that it was 
cited with approval more than sixty times; but, however, 
after being questioned in a series of dissenting opinions which 
called attention to its being opposed to our entire theory of 
government, it was finally overruled (in 1903) in Mial v. 
Ellington, 134 I^. C, page 131. During its existence as 
authority no case ever caused more inconvenience in the 
administration of our State Government than this. 

William Gaston was bom in ISTew Bern in 1778. His 
father was a native of the N^orth of Ireland, of Huguenot de- 
scent, and graduated at the Edinburgh Medical College. 
Chief Justice John Louis Taylor married Judge Gaston's 
sister. Gaston served in the State Senate, represented the 


borough town of 'New Bern in the House of Coanmons, and 
was speaker of that body. He was a member of Congress 
from 1812 to 1816. His address before the literary societies 
at the University of North Carolina in 1832, and at Prince- 
ton in 1834, were models of their kind. He was the author 
of our State hymn, "The Old I^orth State." On the death 
of Chief Justice Henderson in 1833 Gaston was elected to 
the Supreme Court. He died suddenly at Raleigh during 
the session of the court in January, 1844. 

On the death of Judge Gaston, Frederick JsTash of Orange 
was elected to succeed him. He was bom in New Bern in 
1781, when his father, Abner IsTash, was Governor, and was 
a nephew of General Francis ITash, who was killed at Ger- 
mantown. He graduated at Princeton College with distinc- 
tion in 1799. In 1808 he removed to Hillsboro and repre- 
sented that borough town and also the county of Orange in 
the General Assembly. In 1818 he was elected judge of 
the Superior Court, but resigned in 1826. He was again 
elected to the Superior Court in 1835, and upon the death of 
Judge Gaston in 1844 he was elected to succeed him, being 
then in his 64th year. On the resignation of Chief Justice 
Ruffiu in 1852, he was elected by his associates, Chief Jus- 
tice, and died in 1858 in the 78th year of his age. 

William H. Battle was bom in Edgecombe in October, 
1802, the grandson of Elisha Battle, a prominent member of 
the Baptist church in this State. He was the oldest of six 
brothers, all of whom were educated at the University. He 
was appointed Reporter of the Supreme Court in 1839. In 
1833 and 1834 he was a member of the House of Commons 
from Franklin and, together with Governor Iredell and 
Judge Nash, was a member of the commission which compiled 
the Revised Statutes. He was promoted to the Superior 
Court in 1839. In 1843 he removed to Chapel Hill, and in 
1845 he was elected by the trustees of the University professor 
of law and conducted the Law School till 1866. Among his 
students were three of his successors on the Supreme Bench — 


Davis, Shepherd, and Clark. In May, 1848, on the death of 
Judge Daniel, he was appointed by Governor William A. 
Graham to fill the vacancy till the Legislature met, which 
elected Richmond M. Pearson and chose Judge Battle to the 
vacancy created on the Superior Court bench. In 1852, 
upon the resigTiation of Chief Justice Ruffin, Judge IsTash 
became Chief Justice, and Judge Battle was elected to the 
Supreme Court bench by an almost unanimous vote, irre- 
spective of party. He filled the position till 1865 when all 
the State offices were declared vacant. He was then again 
elected to the Supreme Court and filled the post until all posi- 
tions were vacated by the new Constitution in 1868, when 
he returned to the practice of the law. In 1876 he was 
chosen president of the Raleigh ISTational Bank. In 1877 
his son, Kemp P. Battle, having been elected President of the 
University, Judge Battle returned to Chapel Hill as Dean of 
the Law School. He published a Digest of the l^orth Caro- 
lina Reports in four volumes, and edited the compilation of 
laws known as Battle's Revisal. He died in March, 1879, 
in the 77th year of his age. 

Richmond M. Pearson was born in June, 1805, in Rowan; 
graduated at the University in 1823. He studied law under 
Chief Justice Henderson, and was licensed in 1826. For four 
years he represented Rowan in the House of Comiaons, and 
in 1835 was defeated for Congress. In 1836 he was elected 
to the Superior Court, to the Supreme Court in December, 
1848, and became Chief Justice in 1858, and was reelected 
Chief Justice by the people in 1868. His judicial career 
covered forty-one years of unbroken service — twelve years 
on the Superior Court bench and twenty-nine on the Supreme 
Court, nineteen of them as Chief Justice. As Chief Justice 
he presided at the impeachment of Governor Holden in 1871. 
In January, 1878, on his way to Raleigh to open the spring 
term of court, while crossing the Yadkin River in a buggy, 
he was stricken with paralysis and died at Winston, 5 Janu- 
ary, 1878, in the 73d year of his age. 


Matthias E. Manly was the last of the judges who ascended 
the bench in antebellum days. He was born in Chatham, 
in 1800; graduated at the University of ISTorth Carolina in 
1824; studied law under his brother, Grovemor Manly, and 
located in I^ew Bern. He was a member of the House of 
Commons from that borough in 1834-1835, being the last 
borough representative. The six towns which enjoyed that 
privilege were Halifax, ISTew Bern, Wilmington, Hillsboro, 
Fayetteville, and Salisbury. It was abolished by the Con- 
vention of 1835. Judge Manly was elected judge of the 
Superior Court in 1840, and, after faithful service of nine- 
teen years, he was chosen to the Supreme Court, in December, 
1859, to fill the vacancy caused by the second retirement of 
Judge Ruffin. His ofiice was declared vacant in 1865 and 
Judge E. G. Eeade was elected to succeed him. He was 
Speaker of the State Senate in 1866, and was elected by that 
Legislature to the United States Senate, jointly with Gov- 
ernor Graham, but they were not allowed to take their seats. 
He died in JSTew Bern in 1881 in the 82d year of his age. 
His first wife was the daughter of Judge Gaston. 

Edwin G. Reade was born in Person County in N^ovember, 
1812. His father died while he was very young, and he 
aided to support the family by menial work on the farm and 
in the carriage and blacksmith shop and in the tanyard. He 
read law, without an instructor, in books kindly loaned to 
him, and received license to practice in 1835. He was elected 
to Congress in 1855, but declined a reelection. In 1863 he 
was appointed by Governor Vance to the Confederate States 
Senate, and in the same year was chosen judge of the Superior 
Court. In 1865 he was elected by the Legislature to the 
Supreme Court to succeed Judge Manly, being the last judge 
chosen by the General Assembly. In 1866 and 1867 
he was elected Grand Master of the Masons. In 1868 the 
Supreme Court having been enlarged by the new Constitution 
to consist of five members. Chief Justice Pearson and Judge 
Reade were chosen by the people to succeed themselves, with 


W. B. Rodman, R. P. Dick, and Thomas Settle as their 
Associates. Judge Reade's term expired 1 January, 1879, 
when he was chosen president of the Raleigh !N^ational Bank, 
then somewhat embarrassed. Like Chief Justice Ruffin, un- 
der similar circumstances, he restored the credit of the bank. 
In 1865 he was elected almiost unanimously to the State 
Convention and was elected its president by acclamation. It 
is said that in his prime he had no superioT as an advocate in 
this State before a jury. He was on the Supreme Court 
thirteen years. He died in Raleigh 18 October, 1894, in his 
82d year. 

Judge William B. Rodman was bom in Washingi;on, ]^. C, 
in June, 181Y. He gTaduated at the University of K'orth 
Carolina at the head of his class in 1836 ; read law with 
Judge Gaston and was licensed to practice in 1838. He was 
captain of heavy artillery at 'New Bern in March, 1862 ; was 
quartermaster in Branch's brigade, but was soon appointed 
on a military court with the rank of colonel. He was elected 
to the Convention of 1868 and, with Tourgee and Victor 
Barringer, was on the commission which prepared the new 
Code of Civil Procedure. He was elected by the people in 
1868 to the new Supreme Court, and under the construction 
the court gave to the terms of the judges first elected under 
the Constitution, he served for ten years, and retired to 
practice law in 1879. He died in March, 1893. 

Judge Robert P. Dick was bom in Creensboro in October, 
1823. His father, Hon. John M. Dick, was judge of the 
Superior Court for nearly thirty years from 1832 till his 
death in October, 1861. Judge Dick graduated at the Uni- 
versity of North Carolina in 1843 ; read law with his father 
and was admitted to the bar in 1845. He was United States 
District Attorney from 1852 till 1861. He was a member 
of the State Convention of 1861, and signed the Ordinance 
of Secession. He was State Senator from Guilford in 1864, 
and was appointed United States District Judge in 1865, 
but resigned because unable to take the "iron clad" oath. 


In March, 1867, he was a member of the convention which 
organized the Republican party in this State, and in April, 
1868, he was elected justice of the Supreme Court. In June, 
1872, he was appointed United States District Judge for the 
newly created Western District of North Carolina. He died 
in September, 1898. 

Thomas Settle was born in Rockingham County in 18 SI. 
His father, Thomas Settle, was a member of Congress from 
1817 to 1821; speaker of the House of Commons, 1827-8, 
and judge of the Superior Court from 1832 till his resigna- 
tion in 1854. The subject of this sketch graduated at the 
University of North Carolina in 1850; read law with Judge 
Pearson, vvdth whom he afterwards sat on the Supreme Court, 
and was licensed to practice in 1854. He was a member of 
the Legislature from 1854 to 1859. He was Speaker of the 
House in 1858; and an elector on the Buchanan ticket in 
1856. He entered the war in 1861 as captain of a company 
in the Thirteenth North Carolina Regiment. At the end of 
a year's service, he resigned upon his election as solicitor of 
his district, which position he occupied till 1868. He was a 
member of the Convention of 1865. In April, 1868, he was 
elected to the Supreme Court, but resigned in February, 1871, 
on his appointment as Minister to Peru. On his return from 
Peru in 1872 he was president of the Republican National 
Convention which nominated Grant for a second term. On 
the resignation of Judge Dick, Judge Settle, in December, 
1872, was reappointed judge of the Supreme Court by Gov- 
ernor Caldwell, but resigned in 1876 upon his nomination 
as candidate for Governor against Vance. He was appointed 
United States District Judge for Florida in January, 1877, 
and died in that offi,ce 1 December, 1888, in the 58th year of 
his age. One of his sisters married David S. Reid, Demo- 
cratic Governor and United States Senator, and another was 
the wife of O. H. Dockery, Republican candidate for Gov- 
ernor in 1888. 


ISTatliaiiiel Boyden was bom in Conway, Mass., 16 August, 
1T96. He was a soldier in the War of 1812. He entered 
Williams College in 181Y and graduated in Union College, 
'New York, in July, 1821. His father was a Revolutionary 
soldier who died in 1857, being 94 years of age. 

Judge Boy den came to Guilford County in 1822. He was 
admitted to the bar in 1823 and represented Surry in the 
House of Commons in 1838 and 1840. In 1844 he repre- 
sented E-owan in the State Senate, and in 1847 he was elected 
a member of the Thirtieth Congress. He declined reelec- 
tion and continued to practice law till raised to the bench. 
He attended forty-eight courts each year and practiced regu- 
larly in twelve counties. He was a member of the State 
Convention of 1865 and in 1868 was elected as a Republican 
to the Fortieth Congress. Upon Judge Settle's first resigna- 
tion he was appointed by Governor Caldwell, in May, 1871, 
to the Supreme Court. He was then in his 75th year. He 
died in 1873 after a service of two and one-half years. 

William P. Bynum was bom in June, 1820, in Stokes 
County. He graduated at Davidson College with the highest 
honors, in 1843 ; he read law with Judge Pearson, with whom 
he afterwards sat on the Supreme Court, and was admitted 
to the bar in 1844. His license was the last signed by the 
lamented Gaston, who died so suddenly. In 1861 he was 
appointed by Governor Ellis Lieutenant-Colonel of the Sec- 
ond ISTorth Carolina Regiment. His future associate on the 
Supreme Court, Judge Faircloth, was quartermaster of this 
regiment. Judge Bynum was in the battles around Rich- 
mond and at the first battle of Fredericksburg. After the 
death of Colonel Tew he became Colonel. Early in 1863 he 
was elected Solicitor and returned home. He filled that 
position for eleven years, till he was appointed to the Supreme 
bench on the death of Judge Boyden, and served till the ex- 
piration of his term, 1 January, 1879, when he returned to 
practice in Charlotte, where he died 30 December, 1909, in 
his 90th year. 


William T. Faircloth was bom in Edgecombe in January, 
1829, and graduated at Wake Forest College in 1854. His 
means were limited and be taught school in vacation to paj 
his expenses in college. He studied law with Judge Pearson 
and was admitted to the practice in 1856 and located in Grolds- 
boro. He served during the war as quartermaster, and sur- 
rendered at Appomattox. He was a member of the Conven- 
tion of 1865, and of the succeeding Legislature, by which 
he was elected solicitor. He was a member of the State Con- 
vention of 1875, as were Judges Avery and Shepherd. In 
l^ovember, 1876, he was appointed by Governor Brogden to 
the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy caused by the second 
resignation of Judge Settle. His term expired 1 January, 
1879, and he returned to practice in Goldsboro. He was 
defeated in 1884 for Lieutenant Governor on the Republican 
ticket, and in 1890 he was the candidate of the same party 
for justice of the Supreme Court against Justice Clark, and 
was again defeated. In 1894 he was nominated by the Re- 
publicans and Populists and elected Chief Justice. He died 
suddenly at his home in Goldsboro 30. December, 1900. 

William ISTathan Harrell Smith, sixth Chief Justice, was 
bom in Murfreesboro in September, 1812. His father was 
a native of Connecticut, a graduate of Yale and a physician, 
who removed to this State in 1802 and died in 1813. Judge 
Smith graduated at Yale in 1834 and studied law in its law 
school. Among his college mates were Morrison R. Waite, 
later Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, 
W. M. Evarts, since Secretary of State; Samuel J. Tilden 
and Edwards Pierrepont, Minister to England. He obtained 
license to practice law in ISTorth Carolina, but soon removed 
to Texas. After a stay of six months he returned to this 
State and served in both Houses of the General Assembly, by 
which, in 1848, he was elected solicitor and served eight years. 
He was elected to Congress in 1858 and, tho it was his first 
term, came within one vote of being elected speaker. He 
served in the Confederate Congi*ess the four years of the war. 


In 1870 he removed to ISForfolk to practice law, but in 1872 
he removed to Raleigh. Upon the death of Chief Justice 
Pearson he was appointed Chief Justice in January, 1878, 
by Governor Vance, and in June he was nominated for 
Chief Justice and elected for a term of eight yeai's, and 
eight years later the bench, then consisting of Smith, Ashe, 
and Merrimon, were reelected, the first two being then in 
their 75th year. He died in November, 1889. 

The court, from 1868 to 1 January, 1879, consisted of 
five judges, all of whom were Republicans, except Judge 
Smith, who was appointed in January, 1878, to fill out the 
unexpired teim of Chief Justice Pearson. The court was 
reduced 1 January, 1879, to three in number, all Democrats, 
Judge Smith being reelected, with Judge Thomas S. Ashe 
and John H. Dillard as Associates. 

Thomas S. Ashe was born in July, 1812, in Alamance and 
was a great gTandson of Judge Samuel Ashe, already men- 
tioned as one of the three judges who constituted the entire 
judiciary of North Carolina from 1777 to 1795, when he 
became Governor. Judge Thos. S. Ashe graduated at the 
University of North Carolina in 1832 in the same class with 
James C. Dobbin, Secretary of the Navy under President 
Pierce, and United States Senator Thomas L. Clingman. He 
studied law under Chief Justice Kuffin and located at Wades- 
boro in 1836. He represented his county in both branches 
of the General Assembly and was solicitor from 1848 to 
1852. He declined the nomination for Congress in 1858. 
During the war he was a member of the Confederate Con- 
gress, both in the House and Senate. He was a Democratic 
candidate for Governor in 1868, but was defeated by Governor 
Holden. In 1872, and in 1874, he was elected to the United 
States Congress. In 1878 he was elected to the Supreme 
Court of North Carolina to succeed Judge Reade, and in 
1886, was renominated by acclamation and reelected, being 
then in his 75th year. He died in Wadesboro in 1887. 


John H. Dillard was bom in Rockingham. County in ISTo- 
vemher, 1819. For a year and a half he was at the Univer- 
sity of ISTorth Carolina, but left on account of ill health and 
graduated at the Law School of William and Mary in 1840 ; 
he began the practice of law in Virginia, but returned to this 
State in 1846. In 1862 he entered the army as captain in 
the Forty-fifth JSTorth Carolina Regiment and served one 
year. In 1868 he removed to Greensboro; in 1878 he was 
elected to the Supreme Court, but resigned in February, 
1881, after a service of a little more than two years. He 
died in Greensboro 6 May, 1896. 

Thomas Ruifin, the fourth son of Chief Justice Thomas 
Ruiiin, was born at Hillsboro in September, 1824. He gi'ad- 
uated at the University of I^orth Carolina in 1844. He read 
law under his father and began practice in Caswell County. 
He represented Rockingham in the Legislature, and in 1856 
he was elected Solicitor, serving four years. In 1861 he 
entered the army as a captain in the Thirteenth North Caro- 
lina Regiment, but in October, 1861, he was appointed by 
Governor Clark a judge of the Superior Court to fill the 
vacancy caused by the death of Judge John M. Dick. He 
rode the fall circuit, but resigned in March, 1862, being 
appointed Lieutenant-Colonel of his regiment. He was 
wounded at South Mountain, September, 1862, and resigned 
the following March. Later he was appointed a member of 
the army court in the Army of the West. After the war he 
was a partner with Judge Dillard and John A. Gilmer at 
Greensboro, but his health becoming impaired, he abandoned 
the practice and removed to Hillsboro where he became an in- 
surance agent. In 1875 he returned to the bar and formed a 
partnership with John W. Graham. Upon the resignation 
of Judge Dillard in February, 1881, he was appointed to the 
Supreme Court, and the next year was nominated and elected. 
He resigned in September, 1883, to resume the practice of 
law. He died at Hillsboro in 1889. 


Augustus S. Merrimon was bom in Transylvania County 
in September, 1830. In 1860 he was elected to the House 
of Commons, and in 1861 he entered the army as quarter- 
master with the rank of captain, but was soon elected solicitor 
and served till the end of the war. He was elected a judge 
of the Superior Court in 1866, but resigned in August, 1867, 
rather than obey orders issued by military authority. He 
was a candidate of the Democratic party for the Supreme 
Court in 1868, but was defeated with his ticket. He was 
candidate for Governor in 1872 and was again defeated, but 
in 1873 he was elected United States Senator and served till 
1879. On the resignation of Judge Ruffin in 1883 he was 
appointed to the Supreme bench and was reelected at the 
next election. On the death of Chief Justice Smith, l^ovem- 
ber, 1889, he was appointed by Governor Fowle Chief Justice 
and served three years till his death in ISTovember, 1892. 

Joseph J. Davis was bom in April, 1828, in what is now 
Vance County. His grandfather was a soldier in the Revolu- 
tion. He attended Wake Forest College one year and then 
went to the University of ISTorth Carolina, but did not gradu- 
ate. He read law under Judge Battle and was admitted to 
the bar in 1850. In 1862 he entered the army as captain in 
the Forty-seventh ISTorth Carolina Regiment and was taken 
prisoner in PettigTew's charge at Gettysburg, 3 July, 1863, 
and was a prisoner till near the close of the war. In 1866 
he was elected to the Legislature from Franklin, and in 1874 
he was elected a member of Congress from the Raleigh dis- 
trict and served six years. In 1887, upon the death of Judge 
Ashe, he was appointed to the Supreme Court and was nomi- 
nated and elected to the same position the following year. 
He died in August, 1892. 

Alphonso C. Avery was bom in 1835 in Burke; graduated 
at the University of !North Carolina in 1857 ; studied law 
under Chief Justice Pearson; was admitted to the bar in 
1860; served in the Confederate Army, rising to the rank of 


major; was State Senator in 1866 and a member of the 
Constitutional Convention in 1875 ; was elected judge of the 
Superior Court in 18Y8 and was reelected in 1886 ; upon the 
increase of the Supreme Court to five in number he and 
Judge Shepherd were elected the two additional judges and 
took his seat in January, 1889. At the expiration of his 
term, 1 January, 1897, he returned to the practice and died 
in Morganton in June, 1913. 

James E. Shepherd was bom in I^ansemond County, Vir- 
ginia, 26 July, 1845. During the war he was a telegraph 
operator in Virginia. He studied law under Judge Battle; 
was admitted to the bar in 1869 and was a member of the 
Constitutional Convention of 1875. He was appointed to 
the Superior Court by Governor Jarvis in AugTist, 1882, and, 
by subsequent election, he continued until promoted to the 
Supreme Court, where he took his seat 1 January, 1889. 
On the death of Judge Merrimon he was appointed by Gov- 
ernor Holt, in ISTovember, 1892, Chief Justice, but was de- 
feated at the election in 1894, and returned to the practice in 
January, 1895. He died at a hospital in Baltimore, where 
he had gone for treatment, in February, 1910. 

Walter Clark was bom in Halifax County, 19 August, 
1846 ; graduated at the University of l^orth Carolina in 
1864; saw service in the war 1861-5 (except one year while 
at the University of ISTorth Carolina), attaining the rank of 
lieutenant-colonel. When the number of the Superior Court 
judges was increased from 9 to 12 in 1885 he was appointed 
by Governor Scales, 15 April, 1885, one of the additional 
Superior Court judges and was elected in 1886 by the people. 
Upon the appointment of Judge Merrimon as Chief Justice 
he was appointed by Governor Fowle to succeed him as 
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, 16 November, 1889, 
and was elected by the people for the unexpired term in 
1890. In 1894 he was elected for the full term of eight 
years, being nominated by the Democratic party and endorsed 
by the Republican and Populist parties. In 1902 he was 


nominated and elected Chief Justice and was renominated 
and reelected in 1910 and in 1918. 

James C. McKae was bom in Fayetteville, October, 1838, 
and was licensed to practice law in 1859. He saw service in 
the Confederate Army, 1861-65, reaching the rank of major. 
He was elected to the Legislature in 18Y4. He became judge 
of the Superior Court in July, 1882, and at the expiration of 
his term in 1890 he returned to the bar. Upon the death 
of Judge Davis he was appointed by Governor Holt, in 
August, 1892, to succeed him, and was elected for the unex- 
pired term. He was defeated for reelection by the Republi- 
can nominee in 1894, and returned to the practice of law. 
In 1900 he accepted the position of professor of law at the 
University of JSTorth Carolina, where he died in October, 

Armistead Burwell was born in Hillsboro in October, 
1839, the son of Rev. Robert Burwell, the Presbyterian pastor 
at that place. He gTaduated at Davidson College in 1859, 
with first honors, and was engaged in teaching in Arkansas 
when the war broke out. He served thruout the war with 
troops from that State, reaching the rank of captain, and was 
severely wounded in 1864 before Atlanta. He resumed 
teaching in Charlotte after the war, studied law and was 
licensed to practice in 1869 ; he was State Senator in 1880. 
He was appointed by Governor Holt to the Supreme Court 
in ISTovember, 1892, but was defeated in the election by the 
Republican candidate in 1894, and resumed practice at 
Charlotte, where he died in May, 1913. 

David M. Furches was born in Davie County in April, 
1832. His grandfather, Tobias Furches, was a prominent 
Baptist preacher. Judge Furches was educated at Union 
Academy in Davie and studied law under Chief Justice 
Pearson, obtaining license to practice in the Superior Court 
in 1857. He located in Mocksville, where he was county 
attorney, removing to Statesville in 1866. He was a member 


of the State Convention in 1865 ; was defeated for Congress 
in 18Y2; for the Supreme Court in 1888; and for Governor 
in 1892. He was appointed judge of the Superior Court in 
1875 to succeed Anderson Mitchell, and served till January, 
1879. He was elected to the Supreme Court as a Republican 
and took his seat 1 January, 1894. Jointly with Judg-e 
Douglas, he was impeached by the Legislature of 1901 for 
issuing an order to the State Treasurer to pay out money 
which had been forbidden by an act of the Legislature, White 
iJ. Auditor, 126 ~N. C, 570. The charge was sustained by 
a majority of the Senate, but did not receive the necessary 
two-thirds vote to convict and remove from office. He re- 
sumed the practice of law at the end of his term in 1903 and 
died in 1908. 

Judge Walter A. Montgomery was bom in Warrenton in 
February, 1845. He served in the Twelfth North Carolina 
Regiment, 1861 to 1865, being promoted to second lieutenant 
in 1864, and was paroled at Appomattox. He was admitted 
to practice in 1867. In 1873 he removed to Memphis, Tenn., 
but returned to this State in 1876. In 1894 he was elected 
to the Supreme Court to fill an unexpired term for two years, 
and in 1896 he was elected for the full term of eight years. 
On its expiration he returned to the practice 1 January, 1905. 

Robert M. Douglas was born in January, 1849. He was 
the son of Stephen A. Douglas, who was United States Sena- 
tor from Illinois and candidate for President in 1860. He 
was Private Secretary to the Governor of ISTorth Carolina in 
1868 and Private Secretary to President Grant, 1869 to 1873, 
and United States Marshal of N'orth Carolina, 1873 to 1883. 
In 1886, then 37 years of age, he was admitted to the bar; 
in 1896 was elected to the Supreme Court for the term of 
eight years, and at the end of his tenn returned to practice 
at Greensboro. He died in February, 1917. 

Charles Alston Cook was born in Warrenton in October, 
1848. He was at the University of North Carolina, but 
graduated at Princeton in 1870 ; represented his county in 


both Houses of tlie General Assembly; was United States 
District Attorney in 1889 to 1893. In January, 1901, be 
was appointed by Governor Eussell to the Supreme Court, 
to fill the unexpired term of Judge Furcbes, appointed Cbief 
Justice. His term expired 1 January, 1903. He removed 
to Muskogee, Oklaboma, wbere be became a member of tbe 
House of Representatives, and died in 1917. 

Piatt D. Walker was bom in Wilmington in October, 
1849; was a student at tbe University of IsTortb Carolina; 
studied law at tbe University of Virginia and was admitted 
to tbe bar in 1870 ; be practiced law in Ricbmond County and 
moved to Charlotte in 1876. He was elected associate justice 
of the Supreme Court;, taking bis seat 1 January, 1903 ; was 
reelected in 1910 and in 1918. 

Henry G. Connor was born at Wilmington, July, 1852; 
was admitted to tbe bar in 1873 ; was a member of the State 
Senate and House, being speaker of tbe latter in 1899. He 
was judge of tbe Superior Court eight years, 1885 to 1893. 
He was elected associate justice of the Supreme Court and 
took his seat 1 January, 1903. Was appointed United States 
District Judge for the Eastern District of ^N^orth Carolina, 
1 June, 1909, which position he still fills. 

George H. Brovtra was bom in Washington, IST. C, May, 
1850. He was educated at Horner's School at Oxford and 
was admitted to the bar in 1873. He was judge of tbe Supe- 
rior Court, 1889 to 1904, and was elected to the Supreme 
Court, taking his seat 1 January, 1905, and was reelected 
in 1912. 

William A. Hoke was bom at Lincolnton, 25 October, 
1851; educated at private schools; studied law under Chief 
Justice Pearson and was admitted to tbe bar in 1872. He 
was State Senator in 1889, and judge of the Superior 
Court, 1891 to 1904; elected to the Supreme Court, taking 
his seat 1 January, 1905, and was reelected in 1912. 

James S. Manning was born in Pittsboro in June, 1859 ; 
graduated at the University of North Carolina, where he 


studied law and was admitted to the practice in 1880, locat- 
ing at Durham. Was a member of the State House of Repre- 
sentatives in 1907 and State Senate in 1909. He was ap- 
pointed by Governor Kitchin, in June;, 1909, to fill the unex- 
pired term of Judge Connor, returned to the practice of law 
1 January, 1911, and was elected Attorney General for teiin 
beginning January, 1917. 

William E. Allen was bom at Kenansville in March, 
1860 ; graduated at Trinity College, I^. C. ; studied law uiidei- 
his father and was licensed to practice law in 1881, locating 
at Goldsboro. He represented Wayne in the General Assem- 
bly in 1893, 1899, and 1901 ; he was appointed judge of the 
Superior Court in August, 1894, but was defeated by his 
Republican opponent and returned to the practice 1 January, 
1895. He was again elected to the Superior Court and 
served eight years, from. 1 January, 1903, when having been 
elected to the Supreme Court, he took his seat there 1 Janu- 
ary, 1911, and was reelected in 1918. 

The Supreme Court of JSTorth Carolina, as a separate or- 
ganization and not merely as a court of conference of Supe^ 
rior Court judges, began 1 Janua.ry, 1819. It therefore 
rounded out a century 1 January, 1919. It has had, includ- 
ing the present incumbents, forty judges. The court con- 
sisted of three members from 1 January, 1818, to 1868. It 
was composed of five judges from 1868 to 1 January, 1879 ; 
it then consisted of three judges to 1 January, 1889, and 
since that date of five judges. Of the forty judges Chief 
Justice Taylor was born in England ; Chief Justice Ruffin, 
Shepherd and Judge Hall in Virginia; Judge Boyden in 
Massachusetts ; the other thirty-five were natives of this State. 

Chief Justice Rufiin was in his 83d year when he died, and 
Judge Manly in his 82d — both after their retirement; but 
Chief Justice Taney of the United States Supreme Court 
died in office in his 88th year, soon after delivering the 
opinion in the Merrynian case, and Lord Halsbury is still 


the highest judicial officer in England, chairman of the Law 
Committee in the House of Lords, in his 95th year. 

Judge Settle was the youngest judge, ascending the bench 
at 37. ^NText came the elder Ruffin, Pearson, Murphey, 
Shepherd, and Clark, who all went on at 43. Judge Furches 
went on at 62, becoming Chief Justice at 68 ; Judge E^ash. at 
63, and was in bis 72 d year when made Chief Justice. 

Judge Smith went on the bench at 65, and Judge Ashe at 
66, as was Faircloth when taking his seat a second time, after 
an interval of sixteen years. Judge Boyden was 74 when 
appointed, and yet served two and a half years. Smith and 
Ashe were in their 75th year when elected a second time. 
There is probably no other case of two out of three judges of 
the highest court of a State being reelected at such age. The 
longest service (except the writer's) has been Pearson's, 
twenty-nine years and three weeks, and the elder Puffin, 
neai'ly twenty-five years (counting both times he was on the 
bench), and each of these was nineteen years Chief Justice. 
The writer has been on the Supreme Court since 16 ISJovem- 
ber, 1889. 

As to religious persuasion, three have been Roman Catho- 
lics, Gaston, Manly and Douglas; two Baptists, Faircloth 
and Montgomery; four Methodists, Merrimon, Clark, Cook, 
and Allen; seven Presbyterians, ISTash, Reade, Dick, Smith, 
Dillard, Avery, and Burwell; one Freethinker, and the re- 
maining 23 Episcopalians. 

For the first 50 years — 1818 to 1868 — the judges were 
chosen for life by the General Assembly. For the last 50 
years — 1868 to 1918 — they have been elected by the people 
and for terms of eight years. 

The Superior Court in 1777 consisted of three members, 
and notwithstanding the requirement for a Supreme Court in 
the Constitution of 1776 remained the sole court of higher 
jurisdiction for 42 years. It was gradually increased from 
three judges in 1777 to eight judges in 1868, when the Con- 
stitution increased the number to twelve. On 1 January, 


1879, this number was reduced to nine, which was again in- 
creased to twelve in 1885. In 1901 it was increased to 
sixteen, and in 1913 to 20. In 1915 the State was divided 
into two divisions and the Superior Court judges were re- 
quired to rotate by holding successively only the districts in 
their own division instead of the entire State. 

The Superior and Supreme Courts were legislative crea- 
tions till 1868, the judges being elected by the Legislature 
for life terms. The Constitution of 1868 made them consti- 
tutional officers, elective by the people for terms of eight 
years. The number of Supreme Court judges is fixed by 
that instrument, but the Legislature can increase or diminish 
the number of Superior Court judges. In the event of a 
vacancy, either on the Superior or Supreme Court bench, the 
Governor appoints until the vacancy is filled at the next gen- 
eral election. 

Raleigh, "N. C, 4 January, 1919. 


William Bryan of Graven County, Brigadier 
General in the American Revolution 

By William Hollisteb 

During the time that Ireland was divided into small mon- 
archies or baronies, O'Brien was head of the government of 
Munster, The celebrated "Hall of Tara" (poem by Thomas 
Moore) is referred to as having been visited by him in "The 
Story of Ireland," by Lawless, ch. 8, p. 61. In after years, 
from various causes, the name gradually changed its orthog- 
raphy to O'Brian, then to O' Bryan, and the competitor for 
the Irish Crown was John O'Bryan, some account of whom 
perhaps we find in Grenshaw's History of England. Some 
time during the latter part of the seventeenth century his five 
sons, who were under political proscription, left their native 
land for America. Their names were Council, Edward, 
John, William, and Hardy. They were compelled to leave 
their widowed mother and their home of luxury and come as 
mere adventurers to the new world. Council having died at 
sea, the remaining four landed at ISFew Bern, IST. C. They 
were bold, energetic men and went at once to work. They 
began with many others to make what has since become one 
of the greatest commercial productions of the State — tar. 
By strict economy and perseverance they soon saved enough 
money to purchase a negTO named "Tom," the first ever owned 
by the Bryan family. They had dropped the "O" from their 
name and wrote it simply Bryan. (The above by tradition.) 

Fortune smiled upon their labors and ere many years they 
had purchased as many slaves as they desired and invested 
their funds in vessels at sea. After this period we know 
nothing of the original four except Hardy. It is said that 
the Bryans are descended from Brian Boru, who was for 
twelve years Monarch of Ireland (about 1014). For refer- 
ence, see "The Story of Ireland," ch. 8, pp. 60-70. 

William Bryan, son of Hardy Bryan (one of the original 
four), and Sarah Bonner, who was the daughter of Sheriff 


Thomas Bonner, was bom in Craven County, the date un- 
known, near Fort Barnwell. He was a large landowner and 
a very prominent man in the political and military life of his 
day. His remains lie buried near his old home, and a 
descendant, Mr. Albert E. Wadsworth, now owns the land. 
The exact time of his death is also unknown, but his will, 
made January 8, 1791, and probated in the same year at the 
March term of court, shows that his death occurred some time 
in that year, and very early in' that year. See Book of 
Wills A, p. 24, in the "Eecords of Wills" at the Craven 
County courthouse, !N^ew Bern, I^T. C. 

The first mention we can find of William Brj'^an in the 
political life of the province is at a council meeting of the 
delegates of the province in convention at 'New Bern, April 3 
and 4, 1775. He was a delegate from Craven County, see 
Colonial Records, Vol. 10, p. 110. On August 21, 1775, 
at a meeting of the delegates to the Assembly at Hillsboro, 
called by Samuel Johnson, to which Assembly William Bryan 
was a delegate, he was made lieutenant-colonel of the New 
Bern district (see Wheeler's History of JSTorth Carolina, 
Vol. I, p. 72). Colonial Records gives this date as Saturday, 
September 9, 1775 (Vol. 10, p. 563). Jones's Defense of 
ITorth Carolina mentions William Bryan as lieutenant-colonel 
(ch. 8, p. 220). 

The New Bern Minute Men, under the command of Colonel 
Bryan, participated in the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, 
sometimes spoken of as Brier Creek Bridge, February 27, 
1776, which was the first victory to American ai*ms in the 
Revolution. (See Jones's Defense, ch. 8, p. 339. State 
Records of ITorth Carolina, Vol. 14, pp. 271, 276-278, 281, 
282, 283, and Vol. 13, p. 13.) At Moore's Creek Bridge 
he figured gallantly. This battle awakened the people of 
ISTorth Carolina to a realization of their true situation. They 
had begun to see the absurdity of swearing allegiance to a 
king who had thrown them out of his protection and with 
whom they were at open war. In a letter written from 


Halifax, ]^. C, April 14:, 1776, a tourist who had just arrived 
from Philadelphia thus described the state of affairs, in the 
News and Observer, dated March 6, 1910: 

As I came through A'^irginia I found the inhabitants desirous to be 
independent from Great Britain; the same is true in North Carolina. 
However, they are willing to submit to whatever the General Con- 
gress shall determine (General Bryan was a member of this General 
Congress). Gentlemen of the first fortune in the province have 
marched as common soldiers, to encourage and give spirit to the men 
that have footed it the whole time. Lord Cornwallis with seven regi- 
ments is expected to visit us every day. All regard and fondness for 
the King and Nation of Great Britain is gone. A total separation is 
what they want. Independence is the word most used. For many weeks 
in letters, newspapers, in conversations, at the firesides and cross- 
roads, and in public assemblies the people have been discussing the 
great question. But the crowning arguments in favor of a declara- 
tion of independence were the guns of Caswell, Lillington, Ashe and 
Bryan, at Moore's Creek Bridge, and the black hulks of Sir Henry 
Clinton's men-of-war as they rode at anchor in the Cape Fear, Febru- 
ary 27. 

Quoting from Vol. 14, p. 278, of Colonial Records : 

The creek was fordable both above and below the camp ; and above 
so narrow that in some places a tree might have been felled over 
so as to permit men to pass. The camp which, in the absence of 
General Ashe, had been put in order by General Bryant (as his name 
is sometimes spelled ) and General Elbert faced up the fork ; the left 
nearly touched the creek and the right reached within about half a 
mile of the swamp that borders upon the Savannah River. In 
advance about a mile was a piquet of one hundred men which had 
been divided into several smaller ones with a chain of sentries 
between each, and in addition an advanced sentry for the whole ; in 
the rear was posted the light infantry with one brass four-pounder 
near where the bridge had stood. They might have plainly perceived 
from several proofs that the larger part of the enemy had moved, but 
did not return to give notice of it. The first intelligence received of 
the enemy's movements was from an express that was on his way up 
to General Williamson's, who had scarcely communicated it when a 
message from Colonel Smith confirmed it. They came down about 
three o'clock in the afternoon, in three columns three abreast : the 
center column came down the road (at least the general could not 
discern the other two so plainly) and began firing at thirty yards 


In the words of General Bryan himself, taken from Colo- 
nial Eecords, Vol. 14, pp. 278-280, he says : 

I pointed out that my opinion was that the camp was not properly 
placed in being so near the bridge. Nevertheless a detachment of 
four hundred men were sent out that evening under the command of 
Colonel Caswell to surprise a piquet of the enemy. They passed the 
creek in a flat near where the bridge had been; on the 28th, which 
was Sunday, General Ashe (who was chief in command) left camp 
about ten o'clock in the morning to meet General Lincoln at William- 
son's, but without giving me any commands or orders ; the duty now 
falling upon me, I called a council of the field officers and determined 
for several reasons to move the camp a mile higher up the fork. 

He could have wished to encaxap across the road, but con- 
sulted the convenience of getting water, and found that it 
was not advisable. He immediately fixed places about three- 
quarters of a mile in front for the piquets, whilst the camp 
was further secured by a chain of sentries from the creek 
swamp across the road, and down the road to the light in- 
fantry in the rear; these precautions they thought sufficient 
for the evening. On Monday, the first of March, Colonel 
Williams, who was field officer of the day, acquainted General 
Bryan that the enemy had been on their lines all night. 
General Bryan, upon hearing this, doubled all the piquets, 
but had no horse to send out until about twelve o'clock, when 
Major Ross was prevailed upon, though his men had suffered 
very much for want of provisions, and their horses for want of 
forage. Here General Bryan adds how exceedingly uneasy 
he felt when he considered the long, fatiguing march the men 
had undergone, how wretchedly they were equipped, and how 
terribly they needed rest. 

By an act of the Continental Congress on May 4, 1776, 
William Bryan, Esquire, was appointed brigadier general of 
the militia for the ISTew Bern district. (See Colonial Rec- 
ords, Vol. 10, p. 563.) This accounts for the prominent part 
that he was enabled to play in the battle of Moore's Creek 


General Bryan was not tlie William Bryan that is spoken 
of in "Governor Tryon of IN'ortli Carolina," by Marshall Hay- 
wood, as is the current opinion, for in that volume we find 
these words, "The only officer killed was the bearer of the 
Royal standard. Ensign William Bryan of Craven County. 
This gentleman was a. near kinsman of Brigadier General 
William Bryan of the Revolution, and belonged to the well- 
known Bryan family still resident in ISTew Bern." (Reference, 
p. 129, volume on "Governor Tryon of iSTorth Carolina.") 
These two men have been often confused, but we can see from 
this that Brigadier-General William Bryan never raised the 
English King's standard. In 1776, on April 4, the Provin- 
cial Congress met at Halifax and elected General Bryan, 
along with other representative men of Craven County to 
oppose Royal Government. (See Wheeler's Historj^ of 
ISTorth Carolina, Vol. 1, pp. 71-78.) On April 13, 1776, 
the CongTess, then assembled at Halifax, appointed a com- 
mittee of its ablest men to prepare a civil constitution, with 
General Bryan as one of the leading men. This Council of 
Safety then recommended to the people to elect on October 15 
delegates for a council that was to meet in Halifax on 
ISTovember 12, 1776, which was to make a constitution of laws 
that were to serve as a corner-stone for all laws. (See 
Wheeler's History of ISTo-rth Carolina, Vol. 1, pp. 84-85.) 
General Bryan was a member of the House of Commons for 
the years 1780-1781 and 1782-1783. (See County Records 
of Craven County, p. 122.) 

In Colonial Records, Vol. 13, we find a letter written by 
Governor Caswell to General Bryan in which he says : 

Mr. Hardy Bryan, who was appointed by the General Assembly 
to supply the several detachments ordered to march from the regi- 
ments belonging to your brigade, having declined that service, I am 
to request that you forthwith direct the commanding officers of the 
several regiments composing your brigade to appoint some persons 
to furnish the men marching from their respective regiments with 
provisions until they reach Halifax, N. C, as this very necessary 
business must not be neglected. 


In Colonial Records, Vol, 14, p. 17, we find a letter written 
to Governor Caswell from General Lincoln : 

I hope as soon as the furloughs of your nine-months men shall 
expire they will be forwarded and that your militia will be relieved 
in time. The enemy lately moved as far as Augusta with, as I am 
informed, seventeen hundred men. We have a body opposite to 
oppose their crossing. General Ashe, with General Bryan's brigade, 
is gone up. It is a matter of great importance that we prevent the 
enemy from getting into the upper part of the country, from where 
we draw many of our supplies, in which are many unfriendly per- 
sons, and by which our communication with the Indians would be 
cut off, and they be obliged to turn their trade and receive their 
supplies through another channel, which would plainly not be to our 

General William Brvan married three times — Mrs. Res- 
pass, Miss Green, and Miss Mackey. Miss Green was a 
daughter of Colonel James Green of the line of Peter Green 
of Burley Hall, England, and a sister of the Colonel Joseph 
Green, General Bryan's daughter, Eleanor Bryan, had the 
©ari'ings torn from her ears by British soldiers, (This by 
tradition.) One day his wife and daughters were walking 
to a neighbor's house to call, and were surprised by a ruffian 
red coat who rushed out of the woods and pulled the earrings 
out of one of the girls' ears and demanded all of their jewelry. 
In terror they gave it up, all but one girl named Anne, who 
refused to take off one of her rings (which happened to be 
her engagement ring) . He drew his sword and declared that 
he would kill her if she did not. She threw her hands over 
her head and said with her father's spirit, "I will die before 
vou shall have it." In the midst of this revolting scene it 
is said that an aide de camp of the British officer rode upon 
the party just in time to witness this atrocity on the part of 
some of his soldiers, and immediately struck to the ground 
with his saber one of those cowardly wretches who died then 
and there. (This by tradition,) 

General Bryan was engaged with his command in frequent 
collisions with the British forces who were constantly making 
incursions on the inhabitants of Craven County in the vicinity 


of Core Creek and Fort Barnwell, his plantation and resi- 
dence being located near Core Creek at tlie spot where Mr. 
Albert Wadsworth now resides. In one of the forays the 
British force greatly outnumbering his command, they routed 
Bryan's forces and came near capturing him. By a ruse of 
one of his faithful slaves, York by name, he was secreted by 
him and taken to an island in ISTeuse River near York's home, 
and regularly fed and taken care of for several days, the 
negro making his perilous trips to General Bryan always at 
night. The British entered his dwelling, ransacking every 
hole and comer to find him, but without success. This so 
exasperated them that they ordered the family out of the 
house and burned it to the gTound, as found in Colonial Rec- 
ords, Vol. 15, p. 627. 

Early one night as York stepped into the road (he had 
just taken his master's supper to him) he met a band of 
Tories, some of whom knew York and he knew them. The 
general was near enough to hear the whole conversation. 
They asked the negTO where his master was, he replied that 
he did not know. "You are a liar," they said. ''JSTow tell 
us where he is and we will give you money." (This part, 
which is traditional, was given the writer by Mrs. J. W. 
Waters, who has been unable to find out the exact amount that 
was offered to York. ) The negro still contended that he did 
not know where the general was. Then they offered him his 
freedom and still he held out. Finally , becoming enraged 
they threatened to kill him if he would not tell. York told 
them to kill him, even then they would not find where 
"Marsa" was. One of them, so goes the account, was going 
to shoot him, but the captain stopped him, saying, "The poor 
negTO does not know where his master is." So they went on 
and left the negro undisturbed. 

The general aftei-wards said that he was afraid that they 
would hear his heart beat, so near were they to his hiding 
place. The person above mentioned as furnishing this source 
of information has pointed out the spot where the general 


was in hiding at the time. York was an honored guest at the 
homes of all of General Bryan's children and grandchildren, 
and was often invited up to the sideboard to drink his 
French brandy out of the cut-glass decanters. Like most of 
his race, and ours too^ York ardently loved intoxicants. He 
was a worthy negro and lived a respectable life, the general 
having given him a life estate in lands on the south side of 
Core Creek, and this land is known to every one at the present 
time as the "York field." 

The Tories, as mentioned above, gave General Bryan 
trouble in that they burned up all of his property that they 
could. (See Colonial Records, Vol. 15, pp. 627-8.) This 
same passage gives account of his revenge, a part of which I 
will quote: 

After the enemy were iii possession of New Bern a couple of days, 
they evacuated it and came up Neuse Road to our post at Bryan's 
Mill (this is part of a letter written from General Caswell to Gov- 
ernor Burke) and were very near to surprizing the party there which 
I had just left under the command of Colonel Gorham, who finding 
the enemy advancing in front, made every disposition to skirmish 
with them, thinking his right flank and rear well covered with horse. 
But on their approach in front the piquets on his right flank began 
to skirmish. He then found that the horse had not taken post as 
directed, and ordered a retreat, which he very well effected two miles 
across Neuse River. The enemy lay but one night there, burnt 
Bryan's house, Mr. William Herritage's and the Cox's dwellings, and 
much distressed and abused their families ; then moved across the 
country to Trent River, and have gone toward the "Richlands" of 
New River. They let us accidently find out that their intentions 
were to go down the sound and destroy all the salt works. They 
have taken about fifteen prisoners. Their loss would have been much 
greater but for the scarcity of our ammunition which prevented my 
skirmishing to any great extent. General Bryan, the Herritages and 
Cox's have raised a party and burned up all of the Tories' houses 
near them. I am exceedingly sorry for the event and dread the 
consequences. Have given them orders to stop it, but fear that 
I cannot put an end to it. 

This letter was written August 27, 1781. 
General Bryan was a trustee of the school at 'New Bern. 
In Colonial Records, Vol. 24, p. 607, we find: "The General 


Assembly appointed a schoolhouse at ISTew Bern. This act 
was amended in 1784 and the following trustees appointed: 
Hon. Richard Caswell, Abner ISTash, John Wright Starkey, 
General William Bryan, and Richard Dobbs Speight." He 
was sheriff and lieutenant-colonel while Caswell was colonel 
of the regiment during the year 1774-1775. (See Colonial 
Records, Vol. 21, p. 1072.) 

Colonial Records, Vol. 24, p. 387, shows that by an enact- 
ment of the General Assembly of the State of ISTorth Carolina 
a board of auditors was constituted and appointed in each of 
the districts of l^ew Bern, Wilmington, Halifax, Hiikboro, 
Edenton, and two for the district of Salisbury, each board to 
consist of three members, to be composed of the following 
persons: James Coor, William Bryan and John Hawks for 
the district of ISTew Bern (the rest of the names I will not 
enumerate) . 

He was appointed by the Provincial Congress to see that 
Thomas Emery would remove himself from the town of ISTew 
Bern within ten days to the county of Dobbs, there to remain 
for the space of two months, on account of undue practices 
which tended to influence the minds of the people and prevent 
the militia of Craven County from turning out in defense 
and protection of the province. (See Colonial Records, 
Vol. 10, p. 632.) 

It seems that his detachment was the center around which 
the others had their orders issued to them. From Colonial 
Records, Vol. 8, pp. 675-676, I quote the following: 

Colonel Ashe will take command of the army and march with them 
to Colonel Bryan's, from whence the several detachments will march 
under the command of their respective commanding oflficers to their 
particular counties and be there discharged. The commissary will 
supply the army with provisions as usual until they get to Colonel 
Bryan's, and then furnish the commanding officers of the several 
detachments with a sufficient quantity to serve them to their 
respective homes. The whole of the artillery and ammunition to be 
escorted to New Bern from Colonel Bryan's by the detachment under 
the command of Colonel Leech. The horses taken in battle are to 
be divided at Colonel Bryan's — one-half to go to New Bern with 


Colonel Leech, the other half to go to Wilmington with Colonel Ashe, 
where they are to be sold at public vendue, and the proceeds to be 
paid to the public vendue. 

General Bryan's advice was constantly sought and his opin- 
ions highly respected. His appointment on countless com- 
mittees shows how valuable a man he was to his community 
in those terrible days, regardless of the numerous other trust- 
worthy positions that were held by him. In Colonial Rec- 
ords, Vol. 10, p. 175, can be found a statement to the effect 
that he was on a committee for the purpose of preparing 
a plan for the internal peace, order and safety of the province, 
and to make such an arrangement in the civil police of the 
province as may tend to supply in some measure the defect 
of the executive powers of government, arising from his 
Excellency's absence. (This refers to the absence of Gov- 
ernor Martin.) • This body of men was also to take into con- 
sideration the propriety of appointing a committee of safety ; 
the members to compose it, the manner and time of meetings, 
qualifications of the electors and elected, the number of which 
these shall consist, etc. ; and further to report the necessity, 
if any there be, of forming other com m ittees in order tO' re- 
lieve the province in the present unhappy state to which it 
was subjected. 

That he was a man of some kindness of heart is proven by 
the fact that he expressed his desire and willingTiess to pardon 
one Reynold McDugall, who was a boy of about eighteen 
years of age, and condemned, on August 9, 1775, to death 
for murder. The case was one of pronounced guilt, but 
owing to the youthfulness of the criminal and the dependence 
of his mother upon him. General Bryan was in favor of 
pardoning him. This pardon was gTanted. (See Colonial 
Records, Vol. 9, pp. 683-685.) 

William Bryan, Church Warden of Christ Parish! of 
Craven County, was, as we can see, an influential man in his 
church. For reference to his active part in the affairs of the 


Episcopal Churcli see the ISTortli Carolina Historical' and 
Genealogical Register, Vol. 2, jSTo. 2, and paragraph 11. 

He resigned as brigadier-general in 1779. (See Colonial 
Records, Vol. 13, pp. 754, 755, 793, 807, 808.) 

General Bryan owned a large body of land where Tuscarora 
now stands. He built the mill on Core Creek just west of 
his home, which was at this time the most famous mill in 
Eastern IN^orth Carolina. The stream afforded water in the 
greatest drought. It had two saws and two grists, one for 
com, the other for wheat. 

I desire to emphasize the fact that Brigadier^Geueral 
William Bryan was not killed in the battle of Alamance. 
Had he been killed in this battle, which was a battle between 
the English Colonists and the Reg-ulators, in May, 1771, 
he certainly could not have been in a position to resign 
as brigadier-general in 1779. (Colonial Records, Vol. 13, 
p. 755.) It is generally thought by the majority of people 
that he met his death in this way. But our hero lived on 
and made a most heroic stand for his country that he loved 
so deai'ly and tried so faithfully to serve, as I have tried to 
show in the above. And was he not a hero? There were 
other men in the Revolution that held higher military posi- 
tions than did he, but he was ever a true and loyal patriot, a 
highly respected and esteemed general. 


For Whom Was Edgecombe County Named ? 

By Gaston Lighten stein 

It is said that Governor David L. Swain once attempted 
to count the errors in Wheeler's History of J^orth Carolina. 
When the amazing figure of one thousand, was reached, he 
put down the book. Whether this story be true or false, 
John H. Wheeler has squeezed more inaccui*acies into a mass 
of valuable matter than any so-called historian to my knowl- 
edge. Yet, with all its faults, the work is worth a great 
deal to students. Herein they find a multitude of details 
which offer an unusual stimulus for research in order to 
prove their truth or falsity. 

The first sentence of the chapter on Edgecombe alleges 
that the county was formed from Craven. For this bit of 
misinformation the authority cannot be determined. Edge- 
combe was a precinct from its origin until 1738, when the 
precincts of the colony became counties. Whether or not 
Governor Burrington's creation failed to receive legislative 
confirmation as a county before 1741, the Colonial Records 
expressly state that Edgecombe was formed from Bertie. 
Otherwise, what does the follovv^ing extract mean: "Bead a 
Bill entitled a Bill for an Act Appointing that part of Bertie 
Precinct which lies on the South Side of Roanoak River to 
be Establisht a precinct by ye name of Edgecombe."-^ Wheel- 
er's first reference is to Martin's history, but the authority 
cited simply says that the county of Edgecombe, which had 
been erected by an order of Governor Burrington in council, 
was confirmed by law (1741). 'No mention of Craven is 
made by Martin. Before entering upon the subject proper, 
I respectfully ask that Bertie be given credit as the parent of 
Edgecombe. Thus, one error is disposed of. 

Sentence two, of the chapter on Edgecombe, informs us 
that its name is Saxon, and signifies "a valley environed with 
hills," and is derived from the Earl of Mount Edgecombe, 

iVol. Ill, p. 640. 


who, as Captain Edgecombe of tlie navy, had sensed with 
reputation under Admiral Byng, in 1756, at Minorca. How 
Wheeler could write such a sentence is beyond my compre- 
hension, for he stated at the beginning of the chapter that 
Edgecombe was formed in 1733. The fight, in which Cap- 
tain Edgecombe distinguished himself, occurred twenty-three 
years after Burrington erected the new precinct. How could 
the Governor name a portion of the Colony in 1733 for a man 
who "had served" in 1756 ? 

George Edgecumbe, first Earl of Mount-Edgecumbe, was 
bom in 1721. He was twelve years old, therefore, when 
Bertie precinct lost a big part of its territory. It is true 
that, in 1756, this nobleman assisted Admiral Byng; it is 
true, also, that he rose from midshipman to the rank of 
admiral in the English navy, but the disting-uished services 
of George Edgecumbe could not have been retroactive. As 
a boy of twelve, he had almost certainly done nothing for 
which any honor was due him in the Colony of IsTorth Caro- 

Richard Edgcumbe, first Baron Edgcumbe and father of 
the admiral, was bom in 1680. In 1733, when Edgecombe 
precinct was formed, this gentleman enjoyed the friendship 
of Horace Walpole; in fact, he is said to have been popular 
with George II because he was shorter than that diminutive 
monarch.^ He occupied the position of a lord of the treasury 
for a number of years and, although politically corrupt in 
his management of the Cornish boroughs, seems to have left 
a worthy name in other respects. Walpole, whom he served 
as a most trusted subordinate, said liichard Edgcumbe was 
"one of the honestest and steadiest men in the world.'' 

On the 14th day of ISTovember, 1732, Captain Burrington, 
Governor of I^orth Carolina, wrote a letter to the Board of 
Trade and Plantations concerning Baby Smith. Most of 
the details are unrelated to the present subject and will be 
omitted. The lordships were informed that Baby Smith 

2 Diet, of Nat. Biog., Vol. XVI, p. 377. 


needed an Instructor from a Gentleman in Hanover Square. 
The Governor continues: "I thought Smith would be at a 
great loss how to proceed against me. Upon Mr. Ashe's breach 
of promise in not repairing to London, therefore judged he 
would want an Instructor, and for Hanover Square I might 
very well think that a fitt place of Instruction, it was there I 
used to wait upon two Gentlemen for advise and assistance 
in my own affairs. The right honourable Mr. Edgcombe, 
allways generouse, wise and benificent is one of the persons 
mean. '^ 

Who was Mr. Edgcombe ? The generous, wise, and benefi- 
cent gentleman was very probably the person whom Royal 
Governor Burring-ton selected to honor. As the Chief Execu- 
tive of the Colony formerly went for advice and assistance 
to Mr. Edgcombe, it is fair to assume (other evidence being 
unsatisfactory) that George Burring-ton showed his gratitude 
by naming one of the three precincts, erected in the year fol- 
lowing the date of the above letter, for his proved friend. 
But, was the gentleman Richard Edgcumbe 'I 

A search through the Colonial Records reveals the informa- 
tion that on January Y, 1755, a Mr. Edgcumbe sat as a mem- 
ber of the Board of Trade. His fellow members, present at 
the particular meeting, were: the Earl of Halifax, Mr. Pitt, 
Mr. Oswald, and Mr. Fane. Although the first baron did 
not die until 1758, advanced age would be strong evidence to 
offer that he did not occupy a place on the Board of Trade. 
His son Richard, second Baron Edgcumbe and elder brother 
of the admiral, held a number of positions in the service of 
the English Government, and, like his father, enjoyed the 
friendship of Horace Walpole. While Richard Edgcumbe, 
the younger, may have served on the Board of Trade in 1755, 
he could not have been a friend of Governor Burrington in 
1732 because he was then only sixteen years old. 

Family history ought to be preserved, at least, through 
tradition. A considerable amount of matter, in the case of 

8 Vol. V, p. 480. 


the Edgcumbe family, lias been permanently preserved, but 
the data at my command throw no direct light on Edgecombe 
County. I wrote a letter to the present Earl of Mount- 
Edgecnmbe and asked for his assistance. He replied kindly 
enough but could not help me. Therefore, the question is 
open : for whom was Edgecombe County named ? 


Biographical and Genealogical Memoranda 

Compiled and Edited by Mrs. E. E. Moffitt 

A sketch of Chief Justice Walter Clark by Mrs. Moffitt 
appeared in The Booklet of January, 1910. 

William Hollisteb 

The author of ''William Bryan of Craven County, Briga- 
dier-General in the American Revolution," is the son of 
Mr. and Mrs. Charles Slover HoUister of ISFew Bern, ISTorth 
Carolina. His mother is a Daughter of the Revolution, and, 
upon request, furnished this interesting sketch. The ISTorth 
Carolina Sons of the American Revolution offered a gold 
medal to schools and colleges of the State for the best essay 
on "Brigadier-General William Bryan of Craven County." 
The offer which w^as sent out is as follows : 


"The ISTorth Carolina Society of the Sons of the American 
Revolution offers a Gold Medal for best essay on William 
Bryan of Craven County, Brigadier General in the American 


"1. It will be limited to students of the colleges, high 
schools, public and private, in the State of North Carolina. 

"2. All essays must be original work of the contestants, 
giving credit by quotations where verbatim copying is resorted 
to, and referring to book and page from which quotation is 

"3. Essays must not exceed 3,000 words. 

"4. In all essays facts are to be stated as facts and tradi- 
tions as traditions. 

"5. Three typewritten copies are required of each essay, 
one copy of which is to be sent to Judge S. C. Bragaw, ex- 


President of the :Nr. C. S. A. R., Washington, I^. C, Mrs. 
W. N". Reynolds, State Regent D. A. R., Winston-Salem, 
]Sr. 0., and Dr. S. Westray Battle, Asheville, IST. C. 

"6. These essays must be filed with the above named per- 
sons before May 15, 1916. 

"7. If several students in a college, or one high school, 
prepare essays, the best one is to be selected from these by a 
local contest, or in any other way the school authorities may 
prefer. Only one essay, the best, from any one college or 
school can compete in this contest. 

R. T. Bonner, Secretary, E. A. Harrington, 

Aurora,, N. C. Greensboro, N. C." 

Although it was William HoUister's graduating year at 
Davidson College and he had many outside duties — member 
Student Council, member Y. M. C. A. Cabinet, on editorial 
staff of the Davidsonian, member Blue Pencil Club, etc. — 
his mother was particularly anxious that he should try to 
win this medal, as General Bryan was his great-great-gTeat- 
grandfather. He has had two years of medicine at Johns 
Hopkins and has two more before him. 


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Vol. xvni 

JANUARY, 1919 

No. 3 

North Carolina Booklet 









John Steele 123 

By Abchibald Henderson 

Thomas Benbury — A Brigadier-General of the American 

Revolution 134 

By EmUiY Ryan Benbuby Haywood 

The Trial of Henry Wirz 143 

By Sabah W. Ashe 


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Vol. XVni JANUARY, 1919 No. 3 

North Carolina Booklet 

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Mes, Hubert Haywood. 
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editor : 

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^ 1918-1919 

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Regent, Faison. 

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Regent, Richmond, Va. 

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♦Died November 25, 1911. 
tDied December 12, 1904. 

John Steele 
Member First and Second United States Congresses ; 
Comptroller ot the Treasury under Washing- 
ton, Adams, and Jefferson 

The North Carolina Booklet 

Vol. XVIII JANUARY, 1919 No. 3 

John Steele 

By Akchibai>d Hendeeson 

"North Carolina has produced few individuals," says that 
astute judge of men and affairs, David L. Swain, in speaking 
of John Steele, "whose public services offer more interesting 
topics for history and biography." Modest to a fault, ex- 
ceptionally sensitive in disposition, he was at once rarely 
versatile and efficient. In the earliest years of the Republic, 
with his hand upon the nation's pulse, he numbered among 
his friends and familiar correspondents such figures as Wash- 
ington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Oliver Wolcott, Albert 
Gallatin, Joseph Habersham, James Iredell, Alfred Moore, 
ITathaniel Macon, and William R. Davie. 

John Steele, named after his father's brother, was born at 
Salisbury, iN^orth Carolina, on November 16, 1764. His 
mother was first married to Robert Gillespie, who was mur- 
dered by the Indians in March, 1760. Her second husband 
was William Steel, Commissioner of the Borough Town of 
Salisbury. Known to history as Elizabeth Maxwell Steel, 
she endeared herself to her country by presenting to General 
Nathan ael Greene, in the darkest hour of his career, her 
savings of years for the public service. 

John Steele received his early education at the "English 
School" in Salisbury of which his mother thought so highly. 
An important influence was exerted upon young Steele dur- 
ing his earlier years by Dr. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, the 
husband of his half-sister, Margaret Gillespie. As a youth, 
Steele attended the famous Latin School, Clio's Nursery, 
near present Statesville, North Carolina, opened by the Rev. 
James Hall about 1775. Under the influence of McCorkle 


and Hall, wlio were inspired by tlie teachings of J^assau Hall 
and the Revolutionary zeal of John Witherspoon, Steele 
early exhibited a deep love of country and a flaming passion 
for liberty. At the age of thirteen, against his mother's will, 
he enlisted in the Continental Army; and soon afterwards 
his mother is writing to him as follows : "Since you have 
chosen that manner of life, it would give me the greatest 
pleasure to hear of your acquitting yourself with honor and 
faithfulness to your country." 

After the expiration of his military service, young Steele 
returned to Salisbury and established a mercantile business, 
which doubtless often sent him on business visits to Cross 
Creek, near present Fayetteville, the economic center of the 
Scotch mercantile trade. Here he formed the acquaintance 
of the well-known merchant, Robert Cochran. Attracted by 
the charms of Mr. Cochran's daughter-in-law, Mary l^esfield, 
he successfully pressed his suit and was married to the woman 
of his choice on February 9, 1783. In a letter to his uncle, 
Ephraim Steele, at Lancaster, Pennsylvania (Salisbury, 
April 24, 1787), John Steele writes : "Mr. McCorkle's family, 
my mother's and my own are well. I have had two children 
but was unhappy to lose one last summer, as well as my old 
friend and benefactor, Robert Cochran of Fayetteville, with 
whom I was concerned in trade. Since his death I have 
conducted the business alone with tolerable success. Goods 
retail high in this place. The great quantity of paper money 
which circulates through this state is a heavy drawback upon 
our prosperity." 

John Steele early displayed not only unusual capability 
in commercial enterprise, but also marked talent as a student 
of public affairs. On May 5, 1784, he was chosen Assessor 
for the Town of Salisbury ; on March 12, 1787, he was quali- 
fied as Town Commissioner ; and for many years he held the 
office of Justice of the County Court of Rowan. His con- 
spicuous interest in public affairs, together with his general 
popularity, soon brought him into public notice. In 1787, 


at the age of twenty-two, he was sent to the House of Com- 
mons as the representative of the Town of Salisbury. 
"Though his attention had been devoted to mercantile and 
agricultural pursuits/' observes Moore, the historian, "he 
developed a strength and clearness in his address that were 
astonishing." The public confidence reposed in young Steele 
was demonstrated by his election to represent the town in the 
convention, held for the purpose of considering the propriety 
of adopting the new Federal Constitution, begun at Hills- 
borough on July 21, 1788. A remarkable testimony to 
Steele's ability is the fact that, in a membership of two hun- 
dred and eighty, he is ranked by Iredell's biographer with 
the great leaders, James Iredell, William R. Davie, Samuel 
Johnston, Richard Dobbs Spaight and Archibald Maclaine, 
as one of the half-dozen most prominent Federalists in the 
convention. "He was universally regarded," says McRee, 
"as a very enlightened politician, and accomplished gentle- 
man." By Hubbard, Davie's biographer, Steele is described 
as diligent, clear-sighted, and for his knowledge of men and 
skillful marshaling of their forces a valuable ally of the 
cause of the Constitution. When Steele was instrumental 
in having the new county formed out of Rowan named Iredell, 
James Iredell wrote him a letter of hearty thanks (Edenton, 
February 7, 1789), in which he said: "My opportunities of 
rendering any public service have been very few; but no 
man's heart is more warmly disposed to the public interest 
than mine. I think neither you nor myself could give 
stronger proofs of it, than in supporting with all the earnest- 
ness in our power a Constitution which, in my opinion, gave 
us the only chance of being rescued from the dreadful evil of 
universal anarchy, which is as far removed from true liberty 
as despotism itself." Again Steele represented Salisbury, 
both in the Legislature of 1788 and in the Convention of 
1789, which met at Fayetteville in November and by a large 
majority ratified the Federal Constitution. 



On account of the prominent part he had played in politi- 
cal affairs, Steele was put forward by the people generally, 
irrespective of faction, in the Salisbury District, and at the 
age of twenty-five elected to the First United States Congress, 
which convened at Philadelphia on March 4, 1Y89.^ Dur- 
ing the two terms of his service in Congress, Steele won real 
and merited distinction. His speeches were marked by great 
earnestness, delivered with dignity, and stamped with the 
authority which rests on knowledge. Popularly classed as a 
Federalist, who had won his seat as an active supporter of the 
Constitution, he showed himself to be neither a partisan sup- 
porter of administrative measures nor a colorless recorder of 
Federalist opinion. In reality, his was the attitude of the 
statesman who is above party. The great veneration he felt 
for Washington was tempered by the consciousness that Con- 
gress, out of an excess of admiration for this great man, 
had ''by law invested him with powers not delegated by the 
Constitution, which would have been intrusted to no other." 
Steele greatly admired the genius of his friend, Alexander 
Hamilton, as administrator and financier. Yet he was by no 
means an unqualified adherent of Hamilton ; and on impor- 
tant occasions, he opposed measures of Hamilton's which he 
regarded as unwise and impractical. Supported by his col- 
leagues, he opposed Hamilton's plan of the assumption by the 
Hnion of all the debts of the States contracted in gaining 
American independence, on the ground that it was impossible 
to adjust the account equitably. In conformity with well- 
considered views, he supported the bill for establishing a 
national bank, which was so vigorously fought by Jefferson 
and his followers on the ground of unconstitutionality. In 
the fight on the Secretary of the Treasury, he voted uniformly 

lAs North Carolina did not ratify the Constitution of the United States until 
November 21, 1789, the State had no representation until the second of the 
three sessions of the first Congress. John Steele took his seat on April 19, 
1790. His colleagues in this Congress were John Sevier, Timothy Bloodworth, 
John B. Ashe, and Hugh Williamson, the last a Federalist. Both the Senators 
from North Carolina, Samuel Johnston and Benjamin Hawkins, were Fed- 


in indorsement of Hamilton, being supported by Williamson 
and opposed by Asbe and Macon. In recognition of the legal 
insight of Steele, he was appointed, along with Grerry and 
Williamson, to bring in a bill to adapt to the State of ]S[orth 
Carolina the judiciary laws of the United States. 

It was principally through the instrumentality of John 
Steele and Judge Spruce Macay, the Mayor of the town, that 
President Washington, on his tour of the South in 1791, was 
so elaborately greeted and hospitably entertained by the 
municipality of Salisbury. In his diary. May 30, 1791, 
Washing-ton records : "In about 10 miles at the line which 
divides Mecklenburg from Rowan Counties, I met a party 
of horse belonging to the latter, who came from Salisbury 
to escort me on. ... I was also met 5 miles from Salis- 
bury by the Mayor of the Corporation, Judge McKay, and 
many others; — Mr. Steele, Representative for the District, 
was so polite as to come all the way to Charlotte to meet 
me. . . . Dined at a public dinner given by the Citi- 
zens of Salisbury; & in the afternoon drank tea at the 
same plac€ with about 20 ladies, who had been assembled 
for the occasion." In his address of welcome, the Mayor 
voiced the delight of the inhabitants in Washington's visit 
and instanced "the fervor of the universal welcome which 
the grateful people gave him." Washington's reply, which 
expressed by indirection his satisfaction over the action 
of the people of the Salisbury district in sending Steele, a 
Federalist, to the first United States Congress, contains these 
words : "The interest you are pleased to take in my personal 
welfare excites a sensibility proportional to your goodness. 
While I make the most grateful acknowledgment for that 
goodness, allow me to observe that your own determination, 
cooperating with that of your fellow-citizens throughout the 
Union, to maintain and perpetuate the federal government, 
affords a better assurance of order and public prosperity, 
than the best meant endeavors of any individual could give." 

The following letter, which Steele wrote to Governor Alex- 
ander Martin ^New York, May 17, 1790), during the session 


of the first Congress^ is interesting as throwing light upon 
important political questions of the day : 

Sib : — A great variety of business at present occupies the attention 
of Congress, and tho the sessions commenced with the year, there is 
little probability of adjourning previous to the 1st of August. 

The President is dangerously ill of a pectoral complaint, the 
opinion of the faculty is against a recovery. Before this attack he 
was engaged in extending his appointments to the several depart- 
ments of No. Carolina and the ceded Territory, but the secrets of his 
cabinet are retained in such absolute darkness, that were I to 
attempt to give you information, it would be mere conjecture. If 
this stroke should unfortunately prove fatal, the Vice President will 
be in office, by virtue of his present appointment, until the 4th of 
March, 1793. An event melancholy indeed. Shou'd it happen, per- 
haps it wou'd have been better for the United States, that Gen'l 
Washington had never been chosen ; for relying on his virtue and 
abilities. Congress have in repeated instances, by law, invested him 
with powers not delegated by the Constitution, which I suppose would 
have been intrusted to no other man. These powers can never be 
recalled without the consent of his successor in ofiice, or an union 
of sentiment, which in these factious times, is not to be expected. 

The assumption of the State debts, we are told, will be brought 
forward next week in a new dress. This is intended, either to gull 
some of the more moderate members ; or by delaying the progress of 
public business constrain some of the Georgians or No. Carolinians 
(who are anxious to return) to obtain leave of absence. Or the 
Eastern members have been tampering with the Pennsylvanians, by 
offering the permanent residence of Congress to Philadelphia. This 
surmise I have taken occasion to speak of to those who are most 
zealously attached to the interest of that city, holding out as a 
threat that if they did desert us, we shou'd most assuredly desert 
them ; so that eventually Philadelphia might lose more by the bar- 
gain than she would gain. 

A bill has lately been passed by the Senate, and sent to us for con- 
currence, designed to prohibit any further intercourse with Rhode 
Island, until she shall ratify. It is tyrannical and arbitrary in the 
highest degree, and the author of it, indeed the Senate by passing it, 
seem to have lost sight of that political connection which once 
existed, and of that spirit of moderation, and mutual forbearance, 
which ought forever to subsist between governments related as they 
are to us, as well as between individuals. That State, tho' com- 
paratively small, was not backward in the late Revolution. She 
performed essential services in the common cause. She sustained 
important sacrifices, and is therefore entitled to respect. How far 
in her present politicks she has been wrong, or how far right, are 
questions which time only can decide. 


1 hope the bill will not pass our house. If it shou'd, there will be 
a proof given to the world, of the sandy foundation of all human 
friendship, or political connections. 

I have the honor to be. 
With sincere attachment. 

Your Excellency's 

Most Humble Servant, 

Jno. Steele. 

As an evidence of the popular appreciation in whicli his 
services in the first Congress were held, may be read today 
the following account in the North Carolina Chronicle; or, 
Fayetteville Gazette, of ISTovember 8, 1790 : 

On the last day of the supreme court at Salisbury, the grand jury 
appointed their foreman, William Dent, esquire. Major John Crump 
and Major Henry Terrell, a committee to wait upon John Steele, 
esquire, with the following address : 

Sausbtjby District, Supebiok Court, 

September Term, 1790. 
The grand jury for the district aforesaid, sensibly, and deeply 
impressed with the importance of the duties of their representatives 
in the congress of the United States, return their thanks to the 
honourable John Steele, esquire, for his spirited support, and faithful 
attention, to the interests of this state, during the last session of 

The grand jury would conceive themselves wanting in attention to 
the proper interests of the government in general, and this State in 
particular, should they withhold this testimonial of their approbation 
of Mr. Steele's conduct, as the representative of a free people. 

William Dent, foreman. Zachariah Ray. 

John Crump. Jacob T. Longing. 

Harry Terrell. Walter Braley. 

Joel Lewis. Charles Polk. 

William Bethell. Obediah W. Benge. 

Thomas King. Joseph Hayden. 

James Cotton. Jacob Clinard. 

John Howey. John (illegible). 

William Kindall. James Adams.^ 

During his two terms in Congxess, Steele took an active 
part in debate. Upon the question of the ratio of representa- 

2 For this account I am Indebted to the courtesy of Mr. R. D. W. Connor, 
Secretary of the North Carolina Historical Commission. 


tion, he made extended speeches^ advocating one Representa- 
tive for every thirty-five thousand persons ; and pleaded for a 
recognition of the lessons taught by experience in America, 
rather than the following of precedents from Great Britain, 
vs^hich did not properly apply to American conditions. He 
spoke in favor of l^athaniel Macon's plan for protecting the 
"infant industry" of cotton raising; and in view of the fact 
that this "infant industry" was one day to become the greatest 
industry in America, it is interesting to recall Steele's dec- 
laration that at this early date "the farmers of North Caro- 
lina had gone largely into the cultivation of that article." 

Not given by disposition to indulgence in oratorical flights, 
or perfervid declarations that he was a champion of the "Lib- 
erties of the People," Steele showed himself to be singTilarly 
fairminded and impartial. He was an independent in poli- 
tics at the moment when political parties were just beginning 
to assume definite coufrontation. A striking illustration of 
his independence and his transparent honesty is afforded in 
the case of his firm opposition to Clark's resolution for calling 
out the militia to protect the Southwestern frontiers. Famil- 
iar with conditions on the Indian border, Steele did not 
hesitate to tell the truth, espousing the unpopular side with- 
out regard for the effect such action might have upon his own 
political fortunes. His subsequent defeat for a third term 
in Congress was probably due to the speech in which the fol- 
lowing veracious though unpopular assertion was made : 

That the white people are sometimes and often the aggressors (in 
conflicts between the whites and the Indians on the frontier) did 
appear from documents then on the files, that some such instances 
had come within my own knowledge, and as the information then to 
be acted upon only came from one of the parties, a recollection of 
what human nature is under the influence of passion, should cause the 
house to receive it with caution. 

On December 19, 1792, Steele introduced a resolution for 
reducing the military establishment of the United States, 
assigning two motives for his action : to afford more effectual 
protection to the frontiers; and to obviate the necessity for 


new taxes. On December 28, 1792, and on January 5, 1793, 
he made able and extended speeches in advocacy of his resolu- 
tion. Drawing illustrations from flagrant instances of the 
failure of army regulars, who were only mechanical in their 
discipline, to cope successfully with Indian tactics, Steele 
eloquently asserted the superiority of the frontiersmen as 
militia in engaging and conquering the savage foe. Worthy 
of record is his tribute to the militia, and in especial to the 
great Indian fighters of the Old Southwest : 

Who fought the battle of Bunker Hill? Who fought the battles 
of New Jersey? TSTio have fought the Indians so often with success, 
under Generals Wilkinson, Scott, Sevier, and others? Who marched 
in 1776 under General Rutherford, through the Cherokee nation, laid 
waste their country, and forced them to peace? Who fought the 
battles of Georgia, under Clark and Twiggs? Who fought the battles 
of South Carolina, under the command of an honorable member 
now present? 

Who fought the ever-memorable battles of Cowpens, Kings Moun- 
tain, Hanging Rock, Blackstocks, the pivots on which the Revolution 
turned in the Southern States? In short, who fought all the battles 
of the Southern States, while we had a mere handful of regular 
troops, scarcely the shadow, much less the reality of an army? 

They were all fought by freemen, the substantial freeholders of 
the country ; the men attached to the Revolution from principle ; 
men who were sensible of their rights and fought for them. 


While the JSTorth Carolina representatives were unanimous 
on the motion to reduce the army, as amended by Williamson, 
and in opposition to extending the Indian war, Steele's ad- 
vocacy of these measures was adduced against him to his 
damage by political opponents in proof of his alleged lack 
of sympathy with the people of the West and indifference to 
the sufferings of the borderers at the hands of the Indians. 
During his stay in Congress, he wrote numerous political 
letters to leading men of his district, irrespective of party ; 
and transmitted a wealth of information on national affairs 
to his constituents through the medium of Dr. John Sibley, 
editor of the Fayetteville Gazette. In answer to the charge 
of having been independent in politics, Steele vigorously 


retorted: "I represented the division, and was not elected 
by or for any particular party. Being the representative of 
all, I attempted to give information to all . . ." In the 
days of his congressional service in Philadelphia, Steele 
became a close friend of Alexander Hamilton; and through 
this connection, his acquaintance with Washington, by whom 
he was held in high regard, and the bent of his own political 
ideas and convictions, he gradually became more deeply im- 
bued with Federalist principles. His correspondence with 
Hamilton is rich in historical interest ; and the following ex- 
tract from one of his letters (Steele to Hamilton, Salisbury, 
March 17, 1Y93) is illuminating: 

To support a constitution which has cost the best people in the 
Union so much pains to establish, to counteract the nefarious de- 
signs of its enemies, and to rally round the Federal government as 
a Standard where our most precious liberties are well secured, is 
the duty of men who possess talents, property, reputation, or in- 
fluence. Of this, if ever I doubted, my doubts have been removed 
by late political occurrences, none of which are more alarming to 
the friends of systematic and stable government, than the unwise, 
indecent, and poisonous opposition, to the declaration of neutrality. 
The decided and patriotic part which the President took on that 
subject, has raised him some enemies here, as well as in Philada. ; 
but it has increased the veneration and love of all the soJ)er-minded 
well-wishers of national prosperity. 

Our state elections are over. I have accepted a seat in the Assem- 
bly. Colo. Davie, whom you have often heard me speak of, is also in, 
and if there can be a necessity for such a measure, I am sure the 
Legislature wou'd express in decided terms an approbation of the 
wisdom which dictated that Proclamation. Though I am sure that 
success wou'd attend such a motion through both houses, yet I cannot 
help questioning the propriety of an individual state interfering at 
all, either to approve or censure the administration of the general 

No step shall be taken in relation to it without due deliberation, 
and advice wou'd not be unacceptable. Neutrality is the wish of 
every good man in this State who has sense enough to know his coun- 
try's solid interest, and the president may be assured of this, without 
our troubling him to answer a profusion of addresses. 



In a letter to the Grand Jury of Salisbury in 1Y92, Steele 
gave an account of his stewardship in Congress, and expressed 
his intention of permitting his name to be presented before 
the Legislature as a candidate for the United States Senate. 
At the session of the Legislature at New Bern in November 
and December, 1Y92, he was a prominent candidate for 
Senator, along with William Blount and Alexander Martin. 
Largely as the result of violently partisan accusations by 
Montford Stokes, to the effect that Steele had fashioned his 
views "on the political complection of his correspondents," 
that his principles were "all aristocratical," and that he was 
the devoted adherent of Alexander Hamilton, Steele was 
defeated — Martin winning the seat by a small majority. 

In 1795, Steele was put forward as the candidate of the 
Federalist party for United States Senator. His Republican 
opponent was Timothy Bloodworth. It was locally urged 
against Steele by leading opponents, in especial by Joseph 
McDowell of Quaker Meadows, that he "was considered by 
a gTcat many members from the Southern States ... to 
have joined the aristocratical party" and to have become an 
ardent adherent of Alexander Hamilton. In addition to 
this local opposition, outside influence, notably that of Pierce 
Butler of South Carolina, was brought to bear against Steele 
in question of his "steady Republicanism." Much to the 
chagrin of the Federalist leaders, who had a poor opinion of 
Bloodworth's ability, Steele was defeated in consequence of 
the charges so dexterously advanced by his opponents. Dur- 
ing this period, Steele remained prominently in the public 
eye. On January 8, 1794, he was appointed, by Governor 
Richard Dobbs Spaight, Major General of the Fourth Divi- 
sion of Militia of North Carolina. In 1794 and 1795, he 
represented the Salisbury District in the North Carolina 
House of Commons, and played an influential part in the 


Thomas Benbury — A Brigadier General of the 
American Revolution 

By Emily Ryan Benbuey Haywood 
(Mrs. Hubert Haywood) 

Thomas Benburj was bom in 1736, at his father's home, 
"Banbury Hall," five miles from Edenton on the Albemarle 
Sound. He was the son of John Benbury, bom 1707, died 
1774, his wife's name being Mary. He was a member of 
the court in 1756, and also a vestryman of St. Paul's Parish, 

The grandson of William Banbury, who married Jean or 
Jane Minsey, and is first mentioned in the court records of 
Chowan County in 1684, when he had a deed recorded as a 
gift from his mother-in-law, Mrs. Dorothy Minsey, at which 
time he was said to be twenty-one years old. This was about 
twenty-five years after the first permanent settlement of 
ISTorth Carolina. He was a member of the first vestry of the 
Church of England ever held in ISTorth Carolina, which was 
that of St. Paul's Parish, Edenton, on which he served con- 
tinuously until 1708, and was also a member of the first vestry 
in JSTorth Carolina, that of 1705, which ever voluntarily 
assessed itself for the benefit of the Church. 

Tradition says that the family of Banbury, as it was 
originally called, settled first on the James River, later mov- 
ing to I^ansemond County, Va. ; finally migTating to Albe- 
marle, in the Province of Carolina, as this whole section was 
then known. The supposition is that the family originally 
emigrated from in, or near, the town of Banbury, in England, 
which is only a short distance from London and the town of 
Oxford. Just when the final change in the name was made 
is not known, but it must have been during the life time of 
William, for in 1701, as a member of the vestry of St. Paul's 
Parish, it is written Banbury, but in his will he signs 
himself William Benbury, and, so far, there appears to have 


been no further use of the original form. It was a common 
custom among the early Colonists to vary the spelling of a 
name. For more than a hundred years Banbury or Benbury 
Hall remained in the family, until finally in the course of 
time it passed into other hands, and its name was changed to 
"Athol," by which name it is now known. It is owned by 
Mr. Julian Wood, of Edenton, IST. C, whose wife is the grand- 
daughter, seventh in descent, from its original owner. 

Thomas Benbury married Thamer Howcott in 1761, 
who lived only a few years, dying in 1765, leaving two chil- 
dren^ Samuel, who died early, and Richard. In 1769 

Thomas Benbury married Betty for his second 

wife. She lived only a short while and left no children. As 
were his father and grandfather before him, he was a church- 
man and a vestryman of the Parish of St. Paul's, also a mem- 
ber of the Edenton Lodge of Masons. He was connected by 
ties of kinship and association with all the leading men of the 
State, and by his intimate friends was called "Old Tom." 
He was a zealous and active member of all public affairs, and 
as the people were gTOwing restive under British rule and 
"Taxation without Representation" was gTowing to be an 
ever-increasing anxiety and cause of unrest among them, he 
became an early and ardent advocate of their cause and 
aligned himself with them at the earliest opportunity, and 
from that time until the final independence of the American 
Republic he was one of the most zealous and ardent of 

In 1774, August 22j a call was issued by the freeholders 
of the Parish for a meeting to be held at the courthouse in 
Edenton, for the election of delegates to the first Provincial 
Congress, to be held in l^ew Bern on the 25th of the same 
month in defiance of the royal authority. This meeting was 
well attended, and resolutions were passed expressing in no 
uncertain terms their indignation against the Government of 
Great Britain, the British Parliament, the imposition of 
taxes, duties, etc. 


The Boston Port Bill was also denounced. The delegates 
appointed were Samuel Johnston, Thomas Oldham, Thomas 
Jones, Thomas Benbury, Thomas Hunter, and Joseph Hewes, 
all of whom attended. 

At this Congress Thomas Benbury, Governor Johnston, 
and Joseph Hewes, were appointed from this district to 
present these resolutions to the General Congress in Phila- 
delphia. Thomas Benbury was also a delegate to the other 
Provincial Congresses held in ISTew Bern, Hillsboro', and 
Halifax. He was a member of the vestry which wrote and 
signed what was called the famous "Declaration of Independ- 
ence" of St. Paul's Parish, Edenton, June 19, 1Y76, but 
which was afterwards said to be a copy of one prepared by the 
State Congress in 1775, though many have doubted this. The 
following is a copy, as it appears on the Church Register in 
Edenton : 

St. Paxil's Parish, 1776. 

Be it remembered that the Freeholders of St. Paul's Parish, met 
the Sheriff at the Court house in Edenton, on Monday, the eighth of 
April, then and there pursuant to an Act of the Assembly, did elect 
the following persons to serve as Vestrymen for one year. (Agree- 
able to resolve of the Provincial Congress, held at Halifax on the 
second of April, and qualified agreeable thereto), Vizt, Thomas 
Bonner, William Boyd, Thomas Benbury, Jacob Hunter, John Beas- 
ley, William Bennett, William Roberts, Richard Hoskins, David 
Rice, Aaron Hill, Peletiah Walton, William Hinton. 

We, the Subscribers professing our Allegiance to the King, and 
acknowledging the Constitutional executive power of the Government, 
do solemnly profess, testify and declare that we do absolutely believe 
that neither the Parliament of Great Britian, nor any member or 
Constituent Branch thereof, have a right to impose Taxes upon these 
Colonies, to regulate the internal Policy thereof, and all attempts by 
Fraud or Force to establish and exercise such Claims and Powers, 
are Violations of the Peace and Security of the People, and ought 
to be resisted to the utmost, and that the people of this province, 
singly and collectively, are bound by the Acts and Resolutions of the 
Continental and Provincial Congresses, because in both they are 
freely represented by persons chosen by themselves, and we do 
solemnly and sincerely promise and engage under the Sanction of 
Virtue, Honor and the Sacred Love of Liberty due our Country, to 
Maintain and support all and every, the Acts, Resolutions and Regu- 
lations, of the said Continental and Provincial Congresses to the 


utmost of our power and ability. In Testimony whereof we have 
hereto set our hand this 19th day of June, 1776. 

Richard Hoskins. 

David Rice. 

Aabon Hill. 

Peletiah Walton. 

William Hinton. 

Thos. Bonner. 

William Boyd. 

Thomas Benbury. 

Jacob Hunter. 

John Beasley. 

William Bennett. 

William Roberts. 

In 1778, we find him acting with a friend, Rob Smith, in 
the capacity of agent for the State, in the reception of some 
cannon which had been ordered from France by the General 
Government, at the request of the two States, Virginia and 
I^orth Carolina; though judging from the interesting corre- 
spondence which follows, Mr, Benbury and Mr. Smith acted 
first, and sought permission of the Governor afterwards. 
The two cannon^ now mounted and placed on either side of 
the Washington Monument in the southern end of the Capitol 
Square in Raleigh, are a part of that consigTinient. The 
correspondence between Governor Caswell, Thomas Benbury 
and Rob Smith relative to the same, found among the letters 
taken from the Governor's letter book and published in the 
Colonial Records, will prove interesting : 

Edenton, 19th November, 1778. 
Captain Berritz of the ship named the "Heart of Jesus," arrived 
here some time in the month of July last. On his arrival, he wrote 
a certain Mr. Holton, he says, indeed we know he did. He likewise 
wrote to Congress what he should do with the cannon he had on 
board, say twenty eight 24 pounders, to which he never received 
any answer ; but about a month ago, a gentleman from Virginia 
produced an order for one half, or twenty two of the cannon, for 
that State, and at the same time exhibited an extract of a Resolve 
of Congress, by which it appears the contract for the cannon had 
been applied for by the delegates of the two states, Carolina and 
Virginia, and was granted. The State of Virginia are to have 
twenty two of the cannon, and our State Twenty-three. The con- 
tract made by the Agents in France is to pay 150 lbs. of tobacco, for 


every 100 lbs of iron cannon, for the credit of tlie State, we have 
thought it our duty to receive the cannon. The Captain proceeds 
with the other two and twenty that is ordered to South Quay, where 
the tobacco is ready for him, for the Virginia half or share. We 
wish to know if we have acted right in what we have done (we have 
told your Excellency our motives). What should be done with the 
cannon, and to know what way the Captain can be paid the tobacco. 
His time has been some time out, and he will lay after his return 
from South Quay, at the demurrage, we believe of 50 lbs per day. 
We hope we will be excused for the freedom we have taken, and 
are with every sentiment of respect and regard and esteem, 
Your Excellency's mo' ob'. and very humb. srvts, 

Rob Smith. 
Thos. Benbury. 

In reply is an order from Governor E. Caswell to Robert 
Smith, Esquire, Kinston, 3d of December, 1778 : 

Sir : Please to deliver Captain Willis Wilson eight 18 pounders 
for the use of Fort Hancock, and if there are any among the guns 
purchased for the State and received by you and Mr. Benbury, any 
which will suit his ship, please also deliver them. I have not yet been 
favored with the account of the weight of the Guns, or any of your 
favors, since the return of your Express respecting the cannon, 
I am, sir. 

Your most obedient servant, 

R. Caswell. 

Judge Clark, in the Colonial Records, says : 

The ship referred to was the Caswell, Captain, John Easton. She 
was ordered to proceed immediately to Ocracoke. "You are to 
receive from Mr. Robert Smith eight 18 pounders, lately imported 
there from France, and received by Messrs. Smith and Benbury for 
the use of this State. If there are any other Guns in Mr. Smith's 
possession that will be useful in your ship, apply to him and he will 
deliver them," etc., and this letter from Thomas Benbury and Robert 
Smith to Gov. Caswell, in reply, dated Edenton, 10th of December, 
1778 : 

Sir : We received yours of the 24th November. The reason of 
your not hearing from us before is explained in Mr. Smith's letter. 
Captain Barrets proceeding to South Quay with his vessel left us 
no Invoice of the Cannon left here. We have examined the Cannon, 
but from the Swedish marks we cannot determine the quantity of 
Tobacco that the State vpill have to pay, but as near as we can 
guess, we have to pay from one hundred and sixty thousand weight 
of tobacco. As to that part of your Excellency's letter relative to 


purchasing Tobacco, we can only answer that we can purchase none 
here, but as the meeting of the General Assembly is near at hand, 
we doubt not but they will be able to remove every difficulty, and 
prevent the demurrage, if any, from being considerable against this 
State. The cannon shall be delivered as your Excellency ordered, 
and your commands in every other respect concerning them shall be 
faithfully obeyed. 

We are with respect, sir, 

Your Mo. ob. humbl Srvts., 

Thos. Benbuby. 

Rob. Smith. 

Thomas Benbury was a member of all the Provincial Con- 
gresses and Speaker of the House of Representatives from 
1778 to 1782. He was a member of the Edenton District 
Committee of Safety, Major of State Troops, and Paymaster 
of the Fifth Regiment and Commissary General. In 1779 
he was made Brigadier-General, and it is said that he took 
part in the Battle of Great Bridge. These were very trying 
times to the colonists, and the following letters also from the 
Colonial Records, reflect in part, at least, a portion of their 
anxieties, and are therefore worthy of being reproduced. 

The first is from Colonel Alexander Martin and Thomas 
Benbury to Governor !N'ash : 

Hillsborough, August 23rd, 1780. 
To his Excellency Abneb Nash, Esquire, Captain General, Governor, 
etc., etc. 

Sir: In answer to your Excellency's message of this Day. We, 
the members Convened, beg leave to hint to your Excellency as our 
private Sentiments the following Important Objects First, That we 
advise your Excellency to call out from such Districts and Counties 
such a Body of the Militia, not exceeding one half to be proportioned 
as you think necessary, and that they march immediately, by the 
shortest and most convenient route to join Gen'l Caswell, or to any 
other post you shall please to appoint, their serving three months, to 
commence from their rendezvous at Headquarters, or such post as 
may be Directed, unless sooner disbanded, shall be recommended to 
the General Assembly as a Tour of Duty. 

We further advise your Excellency to order the Commanding 
Officers of the several Counties, out of which you may order the 
Militia, to appoint Contractors or Commissioners to provide provi- 
sions, spirits, and other necessaries for the use of the Militia to be 
■called into Service, and the members here present engage their Faith 


and Honor, to use their Influence in the General Assembly that an 
adequate, full and ample satisfaction be made for the same, and that 
Col. Long be directed to immediately purchase, or in case of refusal, 
to impress all the Iron pots and Kettles now at Wilcox's Iron Works 
and forward them immediately to Camp. 

That your Excellency be requested to issue a Proclamation requir- 
ing all Deserters and Refugees belonging to this State, to repair to 
Headquarters, and that the Commanding Officers of the respective 
Counties, exert themselves in carrying the purport of such proclama- 
tion into Effect, in apprehending and forwarding such persons imme- 
diately to Headquarters. 

We shall continue a few days at this place, for the purpose of 
forming an Assembly, in which Time we will gladly and cheerfully 
advise your Excellency, in any matter that may tend to the Defense 
of the State. 

In the present Critical Conjunction, we submit to your Excellency's 
prudence, all other matters respecting the Defense of this State. By 
order and in behalf of the members present, 

Alex Maetin. 
Thomas Benbuby. 

Again we find in the Colonial Records^ this correspondence 
from Thomas Benbury to Governor Nash, in which he signs 
himself in his official capacity as Brigadier-General: 

Edenton, 22nd October, 1780. 
To His Excellency, Abnek Nash, 

New Bern, N. C. 

Sir : I have at this moment received information that the Enemy 
are landing forces at Kemps Landing in Virginia. I have in conse- 
quence of this information sent an Express in order to learn their 
movements. I have also dispatched letters to the different Colos. in 
my district, requiring them to have their regiments equipped in the 
best manner they can, and to hold themselves to march on the shortest 
notice. I have likewise written to Col. Long for one thousand stand 
of arms, if to be spared, we not having one Hundred good Muskets 
in the district. I hope all this will meet your Excellency's approba- 
tion and that you will direct how I am further to proceed. My 
information says there are sixty Sail of vessels, but the number of 
troops not known. 

I am to inform your Excellency that last Monday, two large 
Gallies, with sliding Gunter mast, as was judged, about sixty men in 
each, came over Roanoke Bar, and went through the marshes. On 
receiving this information, the town of Edenton sent out a Boat to 
reconnoitre, which is not returned. The town have been under an 
alarm ever since this information came up. We this moment learn 


that fireing was heard last night, the occasion of which we know not, 
but Conjecture it to be some of the homeward bound vessels, who 
have fallen in with these Gallies. I shall keep your Excellency 
informed from time to time of what happens in this quarter. 
I have the Honor to be. Sir, 

Your most obedt and very humble Servt., 

Thos. Benbury, — B. G. P. I. 

Again in a few days this letter follows : 

Edenton, 30th October, 1780. 
To Governor Abner Nash, 

Sib : I have this moment by the return of one of my Expresses 
received a Letter from Colo. Senf, a copy of which I take the liberty 
to inclose. You will see by that letter we are in a fair way to be 
overrun by the Enemy. This morning I was informed by express 
that three hundred last evening of the Enemy had marched for 
South Quay and that one thousand were under march for this place 
from Suffolk. We have made a stand at Norfleet's Mill, about thirty 
five miles from this place, with the few Militia that will turn out, but 
I am sorry to say, I never saw, or expected to see men so backward, 
they seem ready made slaves. The town turn out pretty well, but 
they are worn out, they expect all to be ruined. I left camp this 
morning, and am this moment to set out on my return. For God's 
sake, for the sake of that Liberty we are contending for, give us 
every aid you can. 

I have the Honour to be, 

Your Excellency's Most Obedt Servt., 

Thomas Benbxjky, B. G. 

With the close of his services as Representative to the 
General Assembly in 1782, General Benbury was succeeded 
in 1783 by his son Richard, while he took a much needed 
rest and enjoyed the quietude of his home for a few years, 
until 1790, when he was appointed Collector and Inspector of 
the Port of Edenton by General George Washington, who was 
then President. This was at that time a position of great im- 
portance, though today it hardly seems possible. This posi- 
tion he held until his death February 5, 1793, in the fifty- 
seventh year of his age, leaving one child, his son Richard. 
He left a large estate and was the owner of a number of 
slaves, as we learn from the first census of the Government, 
taken in 1790, in which he is registered from the Edenton 


District as tlie head of a family and the owner of eighty-eight 
slaves. His burial place is not known, but is supposed to be at 
"Banbury Hall" where a portion of the old graveyard is still 

Several of these commissions, signed by Washington, and 
countersigned by Thomas Jefferson, also an autograph letter 
from Alexander Hamilton, informing him of the appoint- 
ment, are still preserved by the family. 

With the story of patriots such as Thomas Benbury — and 
there were many others — it would be disloyalty if we of later 
generations did not give to I^orth Carolina "Our hearts' 
utmost devotion," as Judge Gaston wrote in his beautiful 
hymn to our State, and unite with him in saying: 

Carolina ! Carolina ! Heaven's blessings attend her ; 
While we live, we vpill cherish, protect and defend her. 

Bibliography — Family Bibles, Wills, Letters and Traditions ; Church 
Register of St. Paul's Parish, Edenton ; Court Records ; Colonial 
Records ; Wheeler's History of North Carolina ; Hathavpay's Histori- 
cal and Genealogical Register ; Marshall Delancey Hayvrood ; Church 
History of North Carolina ; Government Census of 1790. 


The Trial of Henry Wirz 

By Sabah W. Ashe 

[Recently the fact that Henry Wirz was tried by a court-martial — 
or rather by a commission of military officers — and put to death for 
alleged cruelties to Federal prisoners confined at Andersonville, has 
been given prominence, and he has been held up as one who perpe- 
trated outrages against the rules of civilized warfare and in disre- 
gard of the dictates of humanity. Because of the revival of that 
slander on him that likewise involves the fair name of the Confed- 
erate Government and of the people of the South, we devote space 
at this time to a true statement of the matters connected with his 
trial. — Editor.] 

In the fall of 1865, several months after the overthrow of 
the Confederacy, there took place in Washington City two 
judicial murders, which will ever stain the annals of the 
conquering states — that of Mrs. Surratt, hung for complicity 
in the assassination of Lincoln, and that of Henry Wirz — a 
physician and man of high character — who, six months after 
the war was ended, was tried by court-martial, convicted and 
hanged on the charge of having conspired with Jefferson 
Davis and other Confederate leaders to torture and murder 
prisoners under his care. 

The innocence of Mrs. Surratt has been fully shown in the 
account of her trial written by her lawyer, the Hon. Reverdy 
Johnson of Maryland; but the facts in regard to Wirz are 
not generally known. 

When in the shadow of death Captain Wirz was offered 
life if he would implicate Jefferson Davis in these alleged 
atrocities. He preferred death to a life won by such means, 
and died pleading that his name be rescued from infamy. 

The highest officers of the Confederacy were indicted with 
him; and through them, the Southern Confederacy, As a 
sacred duty to itself, therefore, the South should bear always 
in mind the truth concerning the trial and death of the mar- 
tyred Wirz — a stranger in our land — ^who threw in his lot 
with us, served the Confederacy faithfully, and paid for his 
fidelity with his life. 


That there should have been any suffering among prisoners 
on either side during the war must ever be deplored; that 
there should have been any prisoners to suffer is entirely due 
to the war policy of the ISTorth. 

The conduct of the Confederate Government towards its 
prisoners is above reproach and was ordered by the truest 
feelings of humanity. Its policy was fixed by law. By act 
of Congress passed at the beginning of the war, it was pro- 
vided that prisoners of war should have the same rations, in 
quality and quantity, as Confederate soldiers in the field. 
By an act passed afterwards, all hospitals for sick and 
wounded prisoners were put on the same footing with hos- 
pitals for sick and wounded Confederates. This policy was 
never changed. Whatever food or fare the Confederate 
soldiers had, whether good or bad, full or short, the Federal 
prisoners shared equally with them. 

Although deprived of medicines through the policy of the 
Federal Government, and with but a scant supply of provi- 
sions and clothing, her ports blockaded and her resources 
exhausted, the prison records of the South were better than 
those of the ]^orth. The death rate in Southern prisons was 
less than nine per cent ; that in Northern prisons was twelve 
per cent. And, great as was the mortality at Andersonville, 
it was four per cent less than at the Federal prison of Rock 
Island, Illinois, notwithstanding the fact that the JSTorthern 
authorities had abundant means of alleviating the sufferings 
of their unfortunate prisoners. From the first the South 
desired an exchange of prisoners. The Federal Govern- 
ment, on the other hand, affected to consider the secession 
a rebellion, upholders of the Confederacy as rebels and trai- 
tors, her men-of-war piratical vessels, and her sailors pirates, 
and, as such, the latter, when captured, were loaded with 
irons and condemned to bo hanged. Only by the protests of 
European governments and threats of retaliation by the Con- 
federate Government was it deterred from its proposed course. 

While in 1862 a cartel was arranged, by which all pris- 


oners were to be exchanged man for man, and the excess on 
either side paroled^ by which all prisoners would have been 
released — after the battle of Gettysburg, when the North 
held the majority of prisoners, this was discontinued. From 
this time it became the fixed policy of the Federal authorities 
to make no exchanges. 

"If we begin a system of exchange," wrote General Grant, 
"which liberates all prisoners taken, we will have to fight on 
until the whole South is exterminated." 

In the spring of 1864 the Confederate Government found 
itself, in consequence of this policy of nonexchange, over- 
burdened with prisoners^, and established a large camp for 
them at Andersonville, Georgia, a spot selected on account 
of the mildness of climate, abundance of water, and the 
absence of malarial conditions. 

Every provision possible was made for the health of the 
inmates. The law requiring prisoners and g-uards in all 
southern prisons to fare in food alike was rigidly observed, 
the rations issued daily being the same in quantity and 
quality as those issued to our soldiers in the field. They con- 
sisted principally of com meal and beef or bacon, the only 
food obtainable at the South at that time. This food, even 
at best, was unpalatable to men who had never used corn 
meal in any form before, and diarrhea, the usual result of its 
use by those unaccustomed to it, was produced. This disease, 
hard to arrest at best, became unmanageable for want of 
proper remedies, and the sufferers fell easy victims to more 
serious troubles — camp gangrene and scurvy. These dis- 
eases attacked guards and prisoners alike — the officers, Wirz, 
Winder, Colonel Gibbs, and Dr. Stephenson, all having gan- 
grene. To cope with these diseases medicines were neces- 
sary, and the Union Government had made medicines contra- 
band of war. Medical stores, even when the private property 
of physicians, were destroyed in conquered sections, and per- 
sons attempting to send medicines South were arrested and 
cast into prison, and we pleaded in vain to be permitted to 
buy them with gold or cotton. 


All that humanity could suggest was done. Wheat, sugar, 
coffee, and other luxuries, when obtainable, were provided for 
the use of the sick, and well prisoners were billeted on the 
families near Andersonville, where they would be in less 
danger of contagion. 

The Confederate War Department took steps for a 
thorough inspection of the camp. All well prisoners were 
removed to other places and by September only the sick were 
left at Andersonville. By this time the virulence of the 
diseases had begun to abate, the death rate having been great- 
est during August. 

In charge of this hospital was Dr. R. R. Stephenson, sur- 
geon in chief, with a staff of thirty assistants. Colonel Gibbs 
was commandant of the post, and Capt. Henry Wirz had 
charge of the prison proper. 

Henry Wirz, the officer in charge of the Andersonville 
prison, was a physician by profession, and was born in 
Zurich, Switzerland^ in 1822. He emigrated to America 
in 1849, and first settled in Louisville, Kentucky, removing 
subsequently to Louisiana, where he practiced his profession 
until the beginning of the war between the States. When 
the war broke out he was one of the first to enlist in the 
Southern cause. He served as a private in the meniorable 
battle of Manassas, where he received a wound in the arm, 
injuring the bone, from which he suffered up to the day of 
his execution. After leaving the hospital in Richmond he 
was placed as a clerk in Libby Prison. Afterwards he was 
commissioned as captain in the Confederate Army, and was 
appointed deputy marshal, and in 1862 he visited all the 
prisons in the South as inspecting officer. 

The high esteem in which he was held at Richmond is 
evidenced by the fact that he was appointed in the latter part 
of 1863 by President Davis to carry secret dispatches to the 
Confederate Commissioners — Mr. Mason in England and 
Mr. Slidell in France — and to all the financial agents of the 
Confederate Grovernment in Europe. On his return, in 


January, 1864, he was assigned to duty under Brig.-Gen. 
John H. Winder, who, on April 4, 1864, placed him as super- 
intendent of the Confederate States military prison at Ander- 
sonville, Georgia, where he was still on duty at the close of 
the war. 

A man of tried integrity and much experience in prison 
work, he was well fitted for a position of such responsibility. 
Indeed, he was appointed to that post on account of the effi- 
ciency shown while engaged in like work at Richmond. 

He had been from the opening of the war a loyal subject to 
the land of his adoption, and had from the first been called 
to positions of trust and high honor, requiring delicacy in 
handling, to which he was particularly adapted by reason of 
his foreign birth, high character and other qualifications, and 
in all of these he had served satisfactorily. 

In his private life Captain Wirz is described as being an 
affectionate husband and father, and the kindest of men, one 
careful of the comforts of his servants and of the animals 
about him, and so solicitous about the welfare of the prisoners 
in his charge that he often deprived his children of their 
daily cup of milk — one of their few luxuries — for the benefit 
of the sick in the hospital. 

Colonel Hammond, one of the prison inspectors sent to 
Andersonville, made a special study of its commandant, Cap- 
tain Wirz, and leaves us this description of him : 

Major Wirz was at this time about forty years of age, and 
was a trained soldier ; a little below medium height, slight of figure 
and lean almost to emaciation, with dark hair and brown eyes ; 
direct in manner and expression, and active and alert in movement. 
He impressed me as one peculiarly fitted for the details of military 
administration and control. His right arm had been mutilated near 
the wrist, caused by a fragment of a shell in an engagement near 
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, incapacitating him for active field service. 
He was at my side during my visits to the sick and dying in the 
hospital and while passing among the scarcely less wretched inmates 
of the stockade. At night he went over the prison records with me, 
explaining minutely the needs and deficiencies of each department, 
and when I was on the point of leaving Andersonville he implored 


me, with tears streaming from his eyes, to urge upon the authorities 
at Richmond the absolute necessity for more and better food for the 
prisoners, for medicines, tents and lumber, and recommended that I 
should advise that they should send as many of the prisoners as 
could be furnished with transportation to Richmond or Savannah, 
and there turn them over unconditionally to the Federal authorities. 

Colonel Hammond mentioned how Wirz passed, unarmed 
and unattended, witli him through every part of the stockade, 
without receiving any unkind expression or threatening ges- 
ture; and, when questioned whether he had no fears for his 
personal safety, he replied : ''They know I am doing my 
utmost for them." 

As the war proceeded and the death struggle of the Con- 
federacy grew more tense, the diiiiculty of holding and caring 
for the prisoners at Andersonville became, of course, much 
greater. Again and again Commissioner Ould proposed that 
each government should send its own surgeons to care for 
its own men, and that these surgeons should distribute such 
money, food and clothing as might be provided for them. 
'No notice was taken of these propositions. 

On the appearance of disease in Andersonville Commis- 
sioner Ould was directed again to urge the exchange of these 
prisoners, and to offer to buy medicines from the Federal 
authorities exclusively for their use, making offer to pay 
cotton, gold or tobacco for them, and even two or three times 
the prices for them, if desired, agreeing also that these might 
be brought into the prisons by the United States surgeons 
themselves and distributed by them. No method was left 
untried to induce the Federals to accede to an exchange. 
Commissioners were sent; Lee and Vice President Stephens 
interceded. By advice of the prison officials the prisoners 
themselves memorialized the Federal Government, praying 
to be released — all without effect. 

In the rheantime some of the prisoners at Andersonville 
had been sent to Washington to plead their own cause. It 
was of no avail. President Lincoln refused to see them, and 
they were made to understand that the interest of the Gov- 


ernment required that they should return to prison and re- 
main there. 

Offer was now made to release all these prisoners without 
any equivalent if the Federal authorities would receive them. 
In August the whole body of men, 6,000 in number, at 
Andersonville was offered without any equivalent, and they 
were delivered to the Federal commander in Florida, who 
declined to receive them, and so they had to be brought back 
to their prison camp. 

To turn the attention of the northern people from this war 
policy the accusation of deliberate cruelty was brought against 
the South. At the end of the war, therefore, feeling against 
the South was very bitter, and to satisfy this demand for 
vengeance a victim was needed. 

In direct violation of the terms of Johnston's surrender, 
Captain Wirz, a paroled Confederate officer, who, assured 
of safety, lay at home sick and suffering from an unhealed 
wound, was arrested, separated from his wife and children, 
whom he never saw again, and hurried to Washington City, 
where he was confined in the Old Capitol Prison*. 

After several months spent in arranging the court-martial 
and finding witnesses. Captain Wirz was arraigned on two 
charges: conspiracy and murder. Indicted with him as co- 
conspirators, in a plot to torture and murder prisoners of 
war, were Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, Seddon and others, 
all of whose names, except that of Lee, appear on the findings 
of the court. 

Arrangements having been completed, on August 23d the 
following order was issued : 

Special Oeder No. 453. 

Wab Department, 
Adjutant-General's Office, 
Washington, August 23, 1865. 
A special military commission is hereby appointed, to meet in this 
city at 11 o'clock a.m., on the 23d day of August, 1865, or as soon 
thereafter as practicable, for the trial of Henry Wirz and such other 
prisoners as may be brought before it. 



Maj.-Gen. L. Wallace, U. S. Volunteers. 
Brevet Maj.-Gen. G. Mott, U. S. Volunteers. 

Brevet Brig.-Gen. John T. Ballier, Colonel Ninety-eighth Volunteers. 
Brig.-Gen. Francis Fessenden, U. S. Volunteers. 
Brevet Brig.-Gen. G. W. Geary, U. S. Volunteers. 
Brevet Gen. L. Thomas, Adjutant-General U. S. A. 
Brig.-Gen. E. S. Bragg, U. S. Volunteers. 

Brevet Col. T. Allcock, Lieutenant-Colonel Fourth New York Volun- 

Lieut.-Col. I. H. Stibbs, Twelfth Iowa Volunteers. 
The commission will sit without regard to hours. 

By Order of the President of the United States. 

Before the military cominissioii thus convened in violation 
of the Constitution^ which requires that every man held for a 
capital offense be tried before a jury and after presentment 
by a grand jury^ Henry Wirz was tried on the charge as 
specified in the first Special Order, No. 524, of having con- 
spired with Eobert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis, James A. Sed- 
don, Howell Cobb, John H. Winder and others, to torture, 
injure and murder the Federal prisoners held by the Con- 
federates at Andersonville, Georgia. He was accused, under 
thirteen separate specifications^ of shooting the prisoners, 
punishing them cruelly in irons and stocks, of poisoning them 
with impure vaccine matter, of pursuing them with blood- 
hounds, of using a dead line^ of furnishing insufficient food 
and impure water, and of murdering, in cold blood and with 
his own hand^ thirteen of these helpless men. 

In answer to these charges Wirz put in pleas to the effect 
that he had been paroled by General Wilson ; that he denied 
the jurisdiction of the court to try him ; that, war being over 
and civil law restored, there was no military law under which 
he could be tried. He moved to quash the charges for vague- 
ness as to time, place and manner of offense ; that he had been 
put on trial on August 21st^ and that the court had been ad- 
journed without his agency or consent, and that he should not 
be arraigned as before; and, finally, he claimed discharge, 
because, as an officer in the Confederate Army, he was en- 


titled to the terms agreed to between Generals Sherman and 
Johnston upon the surrender of the latter. 

All these pleas being overruled except the second, the 
prisoner pleaded not guilty, and the trial proceeded until 
]^ovember 4, 1865, when, Wirz having been found guilty on 
all the specifications but three, the following order was issued : 

General Court-Martial — Order No. 607. 

War Department, 
Adjutant-General's Office, 
Washington, D. C, Nov. 6, 1865. 

Before a military commission which convened at Washington, D. C, 
August 23, 1865, pursuant to paragraph 3, Special Order No. 453, 
dated August 23, 1865, and paragraph 13, Special Order No. 524, 
August 22, 1865, War Department, Adjutant-General's Office, Wash- 
ington, D. C, and of which Maj.-Gen. Lewis Wallace, U. S. Volunteers, 
is president, was arraigned and tried Henry Wirz. 

Finding. — The commission, after having maturely considered the 
evidence adduced, find the accused guilty, as follows : 

Of specification to charge 1, guilty, after amending said specifica- 
tion as follows : In this, that the said Henry Wirz did combine, con- 
federate and conspire with them, the said Jefferson Davis, James A. 
Seddon, Howell Cobb, John H. Winder, Richard B. Winder, Isaiah H. 

White, W. S. Winder, S. Reed, R. R. Stephenson, S. P. Moore, 

Keer (late hospital steward at Andersonville ) , James Duncan, Wesley 
W. Turner, Benjamin Harris, and others whose names are unknown, 
maliciously and traitorously and in violation of the laws of war, to 
impair and injure the health and to destroy the lives of a large num- 
ber of Federal prisoners, to wit, 45,000 soldiers, etc. 

In like manner the court-martial found Wirz guilty on all 
the principal specifications on which he was tried, two-thirds 
of the court concurring. 

As the result of this trial Henry Wirz was, on ISTovember 6, 
1865, sentenced to be hanged, and four days later, on Friday, 
I^ovember 10th, the sentence was carried into effect. 

It will be noticed that, in both the charges and specifica- 
tions and in the finding of this court, not Captain Wirz alone, 
but many of the most prominent officials of the Confederacy 
were included. Their fair name stands or falls with his. 

Consider the language of Chipman, Judge Advocate, in 
summing up: 


"Whilst the evidence adduced convicts Wirz of contributing directly 
to the death of over ten thousand Union soldiers, and, with his own 
hand and by his direct order, committing thirteen individual mur- 
ders, the evidence also presents the horrible fact that he vpas but an 
instrument in the hand of Jefferson Davis, James A. Seddon and 
other prominent rebels, and, while Wirz suffered deservedly, there 
are those yet unpunished more richly deserving an ignominious 

JSToiie of tlie otliers was ever brouglit to trial, though all 
could easily have been produced. 

The court having been convened to convict, the ordinary 
forms of justice were dispensed with. All evidence against 
the defendant was received and that in his favor excluded. 
The defendant's counsel was denied access to records open 
to the counsel for the prosecution. Witnesses were intimi- 
dated, others forbidden to testify, and at the outset of the 
trial an important witness for the prisoner was arrested and 
sent to jail. 

Men of high social standing froro. Georgia and other 
Southern States were subpoenaed by Wirz's counsel and went 
to Washington, ready and eager to testify to his character 
and humane conduct towards the Union prisoners, but were 
not allowed to do so. 

The Confederate Commissioner of Exchange, General 
Ould, and the Federal Commissioner, General Mulford, were 
prepared to give evidence of the earnest desire of the South' 
ern authorities for exchange of prisoners, but were not called 

On the trial the reports of Drs. White and Stephenson were 
suppressed, and garbled extracts from those of Dr. Jones and 
of others ^y^ere used. The reports of Imboden and Ham- 
mond were^ taken from them and they were not permitted to 

As part of the defense it was intended to show the brutal 
treatment of prisoners in northern prisons, and that sys- 
tematic cruelty was practiced for the purpose of forcing them 
to take the oath of allegiance. The names of witnesses by 


whom it was intended to prove these things were handed to 
Mr. Baker, assistant counsel to Judge Advocate Chipman. 
ISTone of these witnesses appeared; the subpoenas for them 
were never issued, having been suppressed by the Judge 
Advocate on the gTonud that "it was not proper that such 
testimony should see the light." 

Chipman afterwards admitted that he refused to have sub- 
poenas issued for some of the "rebel functionaries whose testi- 
mony was considered important to the defense." Among the 
men whose testimony was thus rejected was General Lee, 
whose simple word would have gone far to prove to the world 
the truth. 

Still many of the prisoners desired to do him justice and 
would gladly have testified in his favor if permitted. A 
letter from one of these to the New York News, fully exoner- 
ating Wirz, may well stand as a type of evidence refused. 

Of all the witnesses only fifteen could be brought to swear 
that Wirz was ever guilty of murder. It was proven that 
all of those swore falsely, some for money, some from malice, 
some from love of notoriety. 

Of those men alleged to have been murdered, the names 
of very few were given, and not one man could be identified. 
Yet such testimony was received. Some swore to acts com- 
mitted by Major Wirz at Andersonville when he was actually 
absent in Augusta on sick leave. 

The chief witness, the man whose testimony was most 
relied on, a miserable, perjured wretch, received a Govern- 
ment appointment at the beginning of the trial in return for 
his evidence to come. He claimed to be a Frenchman, a 
kinsman of Lafayette. He proved to be a Gei^'^an deserter 
from a Federal regiment and probably never Wi^s at Ander- 
sonville at all. To such testimony did the unfortunate Wirz 
owe his death. 

No crime was too horrible to be imputed to him ; and the 
pictorial papers were ablaze with illustrations of his imagined 
atrocities. The South, impotent even to protest, looked on 


in horror, while Wirz, conscious of having done only his 
duty as a humane officer and Christian gentleman, could find 
no words to express his amazement. 

In Washington none dared to speak in his favor. His 
accusers were "patriots," his friends "traitors." So odious 
did those bent on his destruction make him that the consul- 
general from Switzerland refused to receive the money some 
offered for his aid, and the unhappy man was forced to ask 
assistance to meet the necessary expenses of the trial from the 
NeW' York News. His lawyers at last resigned the case in 
despair of aiding him and unwilling to bear longer the odium 
attached to their position; and only one, the noble-hearted 
Louis Schade, remained faithful to him. He stood by him 
to the last, without expectation of reward or hope of saving 
him ; and, two years after Wirz's death, when he thought the 
public mind might be calm enough to receive it, he published 
a letter, giving the most trustworthy account of the trial now 
in existence. 

Captain Wirz^ the man so foully calumniated, was in no 
conceivable manner responsible for the condition of things at 
Andersonville. A subaltern officer, placed as guard of a 
prison, he had no power to alter the existing conditions. The 
nature of the food, the number of inmates and the lack of 
comforts were as totally beyond his control as was the heat of 
the southern sun; and, far from being the fiend he was por- 
trayed to be, the kindliness and humanity of his nature are 
attested by all those who knew him. It is proved by the un- 
impeachable testimony of Dr. Stephenson, General Imboden, 
and others who were with him at Andersonville that he was 
always most solicitous for the welfare of the prisoners in his 
care; that he deeply deplored their sufferings and did all in 
his power to alleviate them. We find that, by letters and 
reports, he sought to bring the state of affairs at the camp to 
the notice of the proper authorities, suggesting and urging the 
trial of such remedies as occurred to him to be practicable. 
Except for about three weeks in AugiTSt, 1864, when, gan- 


greoie having attacked an old wound in his arm, he was sent 
to Augusta by order of his physician, he was never absent 
from his post of duty, but was engaged day and night with 
the other faithful surgeons in attending to the needs of the 
sick and dying. Every prison inspector would have testified 
to these things had it been permitted. 

Yet one last chance of life was to be offered Wirz. ''On 
the night before the execution/' says his lawyer, Louis Schade, 
"some parties came to the confessor of Wirz, Eev, Father 
Boyle, and also to me, one of them informing me that a high 
cabinet officer wished to assure Wirz that, if he would impli- 
cate Jefferson Davis with the atrocities committed at Ander- 
sonville, his sentence would be commuted. He requested 
me to inform Wirz of this. In the presence of Father Boyle, 
I told Wirz next morning what had happened. The Captain 
simply and quietly replied : 'Mr. Schade, you know that I 
have always told you that I do not know anything about 
Jefferson Davis. He had no connection with me as to what 
was done at Andersonville. If I knew anything of him I 
would not become a traitor against him, or anybody else, even 
to save my life.' With his wounded arm in a sling, the 
poor prisoner mounted, two hours later, the scaffold. His 
last words were that he died innocent. The 10th day 
of iN^ovember, 1865, will, indeed, be a black stain upon the 
pages of American history. 'Not even a Christian burial of 
the remains of Captain Wirz was allowed by Secretary Stan- 
ton. They still lie side by side with those of another acknowl- 
edged victim of the military commission, the unfortunate 
Mrs. Surratt, in the yard of the former jail of this city." 

Far from his native land and kindred, and apparently for- 
saken by the land of his adoption, surrounded by enemies 
whose every look spoke execration, Wirz lingered in prison 
alternating between hope and despair and hardly recognizing 
himself in the monster whose crimes were being blazoned to 
the world. His cup of woe was very full. 

!N"ear the end of his trial he wrote a letter of appeal to 


Presideoat Jolinsoii, in which his innocense of crime and his 
simplicity of soul speak for themselves. He protests his inno- 
cense. "I am charged with crimes so heinous,", he says, "the 
mere thought of them makes me shudder. Truly when I pass 
in my mind over the testimony given I sometimes almost 
doubt my own existence. I doubt that I am the Captain Wirz 
spoken of. I doubt that such a man ever lived, such as he is 
said to be, and I am inclined to call upon the mountains to 
bury me and hide my shame. I have erred as all other 
human beings, but of those things of which I am accused I 
am not guilty." 

'No appeal could avail to save one doomed from the first 
to die — a vicarious sacrifice for the imputed crimes of the 

Four days later Wirz was released from, suffering, and he 
passed from the jurisdiction of an earthly tribunal, where 
malignity had usurped the place of justice, to that higher 
judgment seat, before which the unjust judge and the inno- 
cent victim must alike appear. 

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Vol. XVUI 

APRIL, 1919 

No. 4 

North Carolina Booklet 









John Steele (concluded) 159 

By Abchibaxd Henderson 

Life and Services of Colonel Jonas Johnston 178 

By Kemp Davis Battle 

A Composition by John Graham 188 


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Vol. XVIII APRIL, 1919 No. 4 

North Carolina Booklet 

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Mrs. Hubert Haywood. 
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editor : 

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biographical editor : 

Mrs. E. E. Moffitt. 



Mrs. Marshall Williams, 
Regent, Faison. 

Mrs. E. E. Moffitt, Honorary 
Regent, Richmond, Va. 

Mrs. Thomas K. Bruner, 
Honorary Regent, Raleigh. 

Miss Mary Hilliard Hinton, 
1st Vice-Regent, Raleigh. 

Mrs. Paul H. Lee, 2d Vice- 
Regent, Raleigh. 

Mrs. George P. Pell, Recording 
Secretary, Raleigh. 

Miss Winifred Faison, Corre- 
sponding Secretary, Faison. 

Miss Georgia Hicks, Historian, 

Mrs. Charles Lee Smith, 

Treasurer, Raleigh. 
Mrs. George Ramsey, Registrar, 

Mrs. John E. Ray, Custodian of 

Relics, Raleigh. 
Mrs. Laurence Covington, 

Executive Secretary, Raleigh. 
Mrs. Charles Wales, 

Genealogist, Edenton. 
Miss Catherine Albertson, 

Junior Director, Elizabeth City. 


Bloomsbury Chapter Mrs. Paul H. Lee, Regent. 

Penelope Barker Chapter , Regent. 

Sir Walter Raleigh Chapter Mrs. I. M. Meekins, Regent. 

General Francis Nash Chapter Miss Rebecca Cameron, Regent. 

Roanoke Chapter Mrs. F. M. Allen, Regent. 

Mary Slocumb Chapter Miss Georgia Hicks, Regent. 

Colonel Thomas Robeson Chapter Mrs. Annie Buie, Regent. 

Tuscarora Chapter Mrs. C. H. Hunter, Regent. 

Founder of the North Carolina Society and Regent 1896-1902 ; 

Mrs. spier WHITAKER.* 

Regent 1902 : 

Mrs. D. H. HILL, SR.t 

Regent 1902-1906: 


Regent 1906-1910: 

Mrs. E. E. MOFFITT. 

Regent 1910-1917: 

•Died November 25, 1911. 
tDied December 12, 1904. 

The North Carolina Booklet 

Vol. XVIII APRIL, 1919 No. 4 

John Steele 

By Archebaud Henderson 

As early as 1793, Steele was under consideration for 
national prefernient. His talents were especially appreciated 
by Hamilton, who remained in correspondence with him. 
The fact that Steele, in 1792, though under thirty years of 
age, had been prominently pressed for the Senate, and again 
in 1795 had been the candidate of his party for the Senate, 
gave him strong claims to recognition by Washington, who 
was well acquainted with him and had a very favorable opin- 
ion of his ability. Upon the resignation of John Davis of 
Massachusetts as Comptroller of the Treasury, John Steele 
was appointed to that office, his commission bearing the date 
July 1, 1796. 

Before taking up in more detail the career of Steele as 
Comptroller of the Treasury, some quotations from the corre- 
spondence of Steele and Hamilton may throw interesting 
sidelights upon important events and issues of the time. In 
a letter to Steele (Philadelphia, October 15, 1792), Hamil- 
ton makes a noteworthy pronouncement upon the presidential 
situation, which is of especial interest for its reference to 
Aaron Burr, Hamilton's evil genius. 

Mr. Adams is the man who will be supported in the Northern and 
Middle States by the friends of the Government. They reason thus— 
"Mr. Adams, like other men, has his faults and his foibles — -some 
of the opinions he is supposed to entertain, we do not approve . . . 
but we believe him to be honest, firm, faithful and independent— a 
sincere lover of his country — a real friend to genuine liberty ; but 
combining his attachment to that with the love of order and stable 


government. No man's private character can be fairer than his. 
No man has given stronger proofs than him of disinterested and 
intrepid patriotism. We will therefore support him as far preferable 
to any one who is likely to be opposed to him." 

Who will be seriously opposed to him — I am yet at a loss to 
decide. One while, Governor Clinton appeared to be the man. Of 
late there have been symptoms of Col. Burr's canvassing for it. 
Some say, one or both, of these will be played off as a diversion 
in favour of Mr. Jefferson. 

I do not scruple to say to you that my preference of Mr. Adams 
to either of these characters is decided. As to Mr. Clinton, he is a 
man of narrow and perverse politics, and as well under the former 
as under the present Government he has been steadily since the 
termination of the War with Great Britain opposed to national prin- 
ciples. My opinion of Mr. Burr is yet to form — but according to 
the present state of it, he is a man whose only political principle 
is to mount at all events — to the highest legal honors of the Nation, 
and as much further as circumstances will carry him. Imputations 
not favorable to his integrity as a man rest upon him ; but I do not 
vouch for their authenticity. 

There was a time, when I should have balanced between Mr. Jef- 
ferson and Mr. Adams ; but I now view the former as a man of sub- 
limated and paradoxical imagination cherishing notions incompati- 
ble with regular and firm government.* 

On April 8, 1793, Edmund Charles Genet, the accredited 
representative of the new French Republic, landed at Charles- 
ton. It was with a feeling little short of consternation that 
the American people noted his extraordinary activities in 
enlisting seamen, commissioning oificerS', and fitting out pri- 
vateers, for the unconcealed purpose of preying upon British 
commerce. One week after Washington issued his Proclama- 
tion of JSTeutrality (April 22, 1793), Genet was at Salisbury, 
ISTorth Carolina, on his way northward; and the following 
extract from a letter written by Steele to Hamilton (Salis- 
bury, April 30, 1793) contains a vivid pen-picture at close 
range of Citizen Genet at this stirring period in American 
history : 

This morning Mr. Genet, the French Minister, set out from this 
place for Philadelphia. . . . You have heard much of this citizen, 
no doubt, and therefore anything of him from me will seem super- 

* For a copy of this letter I am indebted to the courtesy of Judge H. G. 


fluous ; but as I am writing of the man tliat we are all afraid of, 
permit me to say that he has a good person, fine ruddy complexion, 
quite active, and seems always in a bustle, more like a busy man 
than a man of business. A Frenchman in his manners, he announces 
himself in all companies as the minister of the republic, &c., talks 
freely of his commission, and like most Europeans, seems to have 
adopted mistaken notions of the penetration and knowledge of the 
people of the United States. He is, or affects to be, highly grati- 
fied by the affectionate treatment he has thus far experienced from 
the Americans, except of Charleston, where an insult was offered 
to a French seaman, which he attributes to the merchants, who 
seem in his opinion almost wholly attached to the British. The 
minister, notwithstanding his good-nature, spoke angrily of this 
insult, and for a moment deviated from his system, which I think 
is to laugh us into the war, if he can. The best informed men in this 
State, who are wholly disinterested, continue uneasy, from an ap- 
prehension that our political connection with France, and our com- 
mercial intercourse with England, will place the United States in 
a delicate, if not a dangerous situation during the war. 

I have often said, on proper occasions, that the friends to neutral- 
ity and peace would find in the Secretary of the Treasury an able 
and zealous friend. . . . The best men in this country rely chiefly 
upon your talents and disposition to avoid the rocks which lie upon 
the right hand, and upon the left, ready to dash our young govern- 
ment to pieces upon the least unskillful pilotage. 


On JSTovember 15, 1796, Steele sent to the General Assem- 
bly of ISTorth Carolina his resignation both as Justice of the 
Peace for the county of Rowan and as Major General in the 
Fourth Division of the Militia of ISTorth Carolina — in conse- 
quence of the assumption of his new duties and of his removal 
to Philadelphia. Early in July of that year he had formally 
taken charge of the office of the Comptroller of the Treasury, 
in which office he had been preceded by ]^icholas Eveleigh of 
South Carolina, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., of Connecticut, Jona- 
than Jackson of Massachusetts, and John Davis of Massa- 
chusetts. For the next six years, Steele assiduously devoted 
himself to the onerous and taxing duties of that office. 

The accounting system of the Treasury Department, de- 
signed to concentrate all accounting agencies in that depart- 
ment, was created by Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary 


of the Treasury. In the original organization of that depart- 
ment, by the act of September 2, 1Y89, provision was made 
by the first Congress for a Secretary of the Treasury, an 
assistant to the Secretary, a Comptroller, an Auditor, a Treas- 
urer, and a Register. Under the terms of that act, it was the 
duty of the Comptroller to superintend the adjustment and 
preservation of all public accounts; to examine all accounts 
settled by the Auditor and certify balances arising thereon 
to the Register ; to countersign all warrants drawn by the 
Secretary of the Treasury, which were warranted by law; 
to report to the Secretary the official forms of all papers to be 
issued in the different offices for collecting the public reve- 
nue, and the manner and form of keeping and stating the 
accounts of the several persons employed therein ; to provide 
for the regular and punctual payment of all moneys which 
may be collected and to direct proceedings for all delinquen- 
cies of officers of the revenue and for debts due the United 

Steele took up his quarters in Philadelphia at Francis's 
Hotel; and in a letter to his wife, written shortly after his 
arrival in Philadelphia, he thus describes the routine of his 
daily life : 

It will no doubt be some satisfaction to you to know the nature 
of my office duties, and other minutiae relative to my situation. The 
papers are kept in a large house in Chestnut Street, about the center 
of the city. The Secretary of the Treasury and his clerks occupy the 
lower story, the comptroller and his clerks the rooms of the second 
story, and the Register of the Treasury and his clerks the third 
story. . . . Under my direction there are thirteen clerks and a 
doorkeeper, and indeed there is business enough for the whole. Writ- 
ing, writing, writing in this department is the whole duty of man, 
and at this you know I can do a reasonable share. I go to the office 
every morning after an early breakfast, continue there until three 
o'clock, dine, and after dinner return to business again until sunset 
or dusk. The clerks are all at liberty after three o'clock, tho' some 
of them return and do business in the afternoon from choice. These 
are allowed an additional compensation. 

In the first days of his residence in Philadelphia, he wrote 
his wife : "In leisure books shall be my companions" ; but 


it was not long before his duties became so onerous that he 
was kept regularly at his office until nine o'clock in the even- 
ing. "Even on Sundays," he says, "I have not leisure to go 
to church, except now and then when I understand a person 
of particular eminence is to preach. Besides other vast cares 
upon my mind, not one dollar can go in, or out of the Treas- 
ury of the United States without my name and that of the 
Secretary of the Treasury." 


An interesting picture of social life in Philadelphia and 
in Washington, during the early sessions of Congress in the 
two capitals, are found in the letters of General Steele and 
his daughter, Ann ]^essfield, written home from time to time 
to Mrs. Steele at Salisbury. Mrs. Steele seldom accom- 
panied her husband to either place ; and her associations with 
Philadelphia were saddened by the death of her infant son, 
whom she lost there in 1Y98. A few brief extracts from the 
letters must suffice to give us a glimpse or two of the social 
happenings of the day. A corner of Steele's heart, revealing 
his deep and intense love for his wife — the "Polly" of his 
letters — is portrayed in the following extract from a letter 
to her, written from Philadelphia (January 31, 1793), in 
which he mentions dining vnth Washington : 

I dined to-day at tlie President's in a very large company of ladies 
and gentlemen. On such occasions, without you, I feel like Captain 
O'Blunder, "Alone in the throng." The truth is, I feel every day 
more and more disposed to believe that there is no happiness to be 
found out of a man's own house. Any mortal who thinks that honor 
and fame will confer that inestimable boon called happiness, in the 
end like Solomon will find himself grossly mistaken. Believing in 
that opinion I rejoice with all my heart that my political course is 
almost finished. . . . The President today asked me to drink a 
glass of wine with him. This is considered here a great honor. It 
may be so ; but I would have been more highly gratified in drinking a 
glass with my own dear Polly. 

During the year 1801, General Steele was accompanied to 
Washington by his sprightly and witty daughter, Ann Ness- 


field ; and they took quarters at a Miss Beall's in Gleorgetown. 
A few quotations from lier letters home carry the piquancy 
of interest which attaches to experiences associated with per- 
sonages of historic note. Writing to her mother on !N^ovem- 
ber 4j 1801, she says: "I dined at Mr. Madison's both last 
Sunday and today — nothing uncommon in any of the din- 
ners — not a bit better than your own, and in no more style. 
As for fashions, every thing is Crazy Jane, and the 
more you can imitate a crazy person the more fashionable you 
are." On Christmas day, 1801, she writes : "In the morn- 
ing we visited the Roman Catholic Chapel in this place 
(Georgetown), and were entertained with a great quantity 
of show but very little substance. We returned home to 
dinner, and drank tea with Mrs. Orr from whence we have 
just returned. ... I was in company with Mrs. Murry 
(William Vans Murray ?) the evening before last and must 
positively give you a description of her head-dress. Well, it 
was a colored cotton handkerchief, red and spotted with yel- 
low. ... I don't know what to call it for it would be 
highly improper to call it a handkerchief." At times, too, 
Ann wrote with precocious solemnity of her father's affairs ; 
and the following extract must be regarded as only partially 
explaining the reasons which actuated General Steele in his 
retirement from office. "The other evening," writes Ann to 
her mother, not long before her father resigned the Comp- 
trollership of the Treasury, "I had a long conversation with 
Papa respecting his resignation and I have concluded that it 
is better for him to retire from public business. He says 
that as we are situated now we spend all his salary and it will 
appear very singular if we should continue to live, part of the 
family in Carolina and the other part in Washington ; and as 
to our living, all of us, here, it is out of the question, for we 
could not even live comfortably on less than five thousand 
dollars, which is just twice as much as his income." 

One of the most fascinating memoirs of the period is The 
First Forty Years of Washington Society, as portrayed by the 


family letters of Mrs. Samuel Harrison Smith (Margaret 
Bayard). In a letter (July 5, 1801) to Hs sister, Mary 
Ann Smithj Mr. S. H. Smith draws a vivid picture, in which 
Steele incidentally appears and Jefferson is, of course, the 
central figure. 

I cannot deny myself the pleasure of passing a few minutes with 
you, chiefly to draw a picture, which I know will give your patriotic 
heart delight, a picture of Mr. Jefferson in which he was exhibited 
to the best advantage. About 12 o'clock yesterday, the citizens of 
Washington and Geo. Town waited upon the president to make their 
devoirs. . . . We found about 20 persons present in a room where 
sat Mr. J. surrounded by the five Cherokee chiefs. After a conversa- 
tion of a few minutes, he invited his company into the usual dining 
room, whose four large sideboards were covered with refreshments, 
such as cakes of various kinds, wine, punch, &c. Every citizen was 
invited to partake, as his taste dictated, of them, and the invitation was 
most cheerfully accepted, and the consequent duties discharged with 
alacrity. The company soon increased to near a hundred, including 
all the public officers and most of the respectable citizens, and 
strangers of distinction. Martial music soon announced the approach 
of the marine corps of Capt. Burrows, who in due military form 
saluted the President, accompanied by the President's March played 
by an excellent band attached to the corps. After undergoing 
various military evolutions, the company returned to the dining 
room, and the band from an adjacent room played a succession of 
fine patriotic airs. All appeared to be cheerful, all happy. Mr. 
Jefferson mingled promiscuously with the citizens, and far from 
designating any particular friends for consultation, conversed for a 
short time with every one that came in his way. It was certainly 
a proud day for him, the honours of which he discharged with more 
than his usual care. At 2 o'clock, after passing 2 hours in this 
very agreeable way, the company separated. At 4 a dinner was 
given at McMunn and Conrad's,* where all the civil and military 
officers attended, and a number of citizens, which, including the 
former, amounted to about 50. Everything here was conducted with 
great propriety, and it was not unamusing to see Mr. Gallatin, 
Madison, and Dearborn on one side directly opposite to Mr. Meredith, 
Harrison, Steele on the other. . . . Thus you see that we are 
here at least all Republicans and all Federalists. 


Upon the accession of John Adams to the Presidency, 
Steele was retained in office as Comptroller of the Treasury ; 

* A boarding house near the Capitol. 


and lie continued to fill that office until the close of Adams's 
administration. In the year 1800 a division in the ranks of 
the Federalists seriously threatened the chances of Adams in 
the coming Presidential election. The Hamiltonian section 
of the party was out of sympathy with the President. Oliver 
Wolcott, although holding the office of Secretary of the Treas- 
ury, was deep in intrigues against Adams ; and to McHenry, 
the Secretary of War, who was also in the cabal, he wrote 
(June 18, 1800) : "The prospect is almost certain that the 
country will be freed from the greatest possible curse, a Presi- 
dential administration, which no party can trust, which is 
incapable of adhering to any system, in connection with which 
no character is safe." As soon as it became plain that Charles 
Cotesworth Pinckney could not be elected President, and be- 
lieving it to be incompatible with honor and a suitable respect 
to his own character — as he put it! — to serve longer under 
Adams, Wolcott sent in his resignation on l^ovember 8, 1800, 
to take effect on the last day of December. Two days later 
(ISTovember 10), Adams accepted Wolcott's resignation. 

In recognition of his gTcat ability as a financier and of the 
skill, wisdom and discretion with which he had administered 
the office of Comptroller during two administrations. Presi- 
dent Adams at once offered to Steele the post of Secretary of 
the Treasury. Steele was loth to accept the appointment so 
near the end of Adams's administration; and wrote to his 
close friend^ John Haywood, of Raleigh, the State Treasurer, 
asking his advice as to the best course to pursue. In his 
reply, Haywood says: "The appointment now offered to 
you is completely gratifying and satisfactory to me; inas- 
much as I consider it among the most distinguished and digni- 
fied in the gift of the Government. ... As Secretary 
of the Treasury, you would be of higher grade, and more 
immediately of the President's constitutional advisers than at 
present. ... I am clearly of opinion, you suffer your- 
self to be too far influenced by the principle of delicacy you 
state; as a proof of this, I am free to say, that I would as 
soon and as willingly accept from Mr. Adams, on the last day 


of his administration, any appointment he might think proper 
to confer on me, of which I believed myself worthy, and which 
the world or those who knew me considered me equal, as at 
any point of his administration. ... In every view of 
the business, I am clear you ought to accept." Unable to 
overcome his delicacy of feeling in the matter, however, Steele 
declined the distinguished honor proffered him by President 
Adams ; and on December 30, the President nominated Sam- 
uel Dexter as Secretary of the Treasury. 


Upon his accession to office, Jefferson appointed Albert 
Gallatin to the post of Secretary of the Treasury ; and Steele, 
whose conduct of the office of Comptroller had been conspicu- 
ous for efficiency, he persuaded to remain. Steele remained 
in office against his own inclination; for he was unable for 
financial reasons to remove his entire family to Washington 
and for many months his health had been troubling him. 
Writing to Jefferson on July 11, 1801, Steele says : "I have 
for some time past wished to obtain leave of absence from 
the seat of Government to visit my friends in Carolina, and 
by a temporary relaxation from business, shake off, if possi- 
ble, a complaint which gives me great uneasiness." One year 
later, in a letter to his wife (June 26, 1802), he says : ''Since 
the middle of September, 1800, I have enjoyed the society 
and comforts of domestic life but nine weeks, and during all 
that time my anxieties have been increased by a delicate state 
of health, and the incessant cares of a laborious office." 

At some time prior to this, Steele had communicated to his 
close friend, N^athaniel Macon, his intention of resigning. 
On June 2, 1802, Macon, who was really the leader in Con- 
gress of the opposite party, wrote to Steele : "I am extremely 
desirous that you should not retire. ... I cannot re- 
frain from saying, that I do not know any person, that would 
be so generally acceptable as yourself, nor can a stronger 
proof be given in favor of any public character, than that in 
times when party runs rather high, he should by the faithful 


& upright discharge of his official duty obtain the confidence 

of all candid men." Despite the urgency of Macon, of the 

opposite political party but his warm personal friend, Steele 

wrote as follows to Jefferson : 

gij. Washington, June 28, 1802. 

About the lOth of next month, I wish to be favored with your 
permission to visit my family in Carolina. Hitherto a variety of 
considerations have restrained me from removing them to this place. 
Among others, a desire not to do anything which would render it 
inconvenient for me to conform to your views, whatever they might 
be, in relation to the disposition of my office. I thought it my duty 
also to postpone any communication of my sentiments to you on this 
delicate subject, until you should have had leisure to mature an 
opinion of my public conduct, and until Mr Gallatin, with all the 
assistance which I could give him in the mean time, should have 
become sufficiently acqviainted with the forms, and principles of busi- 
ness in the Department to experience no inconvenience from a new 
appointment if that should be your intention, or if circumstances on 
my part should render a resignation necessary. After leaving the 
seat of Government with the permission which I now solicit, I am 
not certain that it will suit me to return : but if I should conclude to 
do so, my family will accompany me about the beginning of October, 
and in deliberating with them in the course of the summer on a step 
which must be attended with trouble, and the sacrifice of many domes- 
tic comforts, it will be extremely gratifying to me, to be certain that I 
understand your wishes. The politeness with which you have uni- 
formly honored me since our first acquaintance, and a certain bias 
which is inseparable from the reflection, that we are citizens of the 
same Geographical section of the United States cannot but increase 
my reluctance to withdraw my services, if they are considered of 
any importance to your administration. Salary although necessary 
to me, in relation to my private circumstances is far from being 
my principal object in serving the public. In a country as free as 
this happily is, a man should have higher, and better views. — Mine 
are regulated by a desire, I trust an honest one, to be useful and in 
that way to acquire reputation, by deserving it. I am sensible, 
however that in times like the present, it is not possible for any man 
to continue in such an Ofiice, with satisfaction to himself, or advan- 
tage to the public unless he can have reason to be assured that your 
confidence in his fitness is entire. 

I have the honor to be. Sir 

With sentiments of perfect respect 
Your most obt servant 
Jno Steele 
Thomas Jefferson Esq 

President of the United States. 


In his very courteous reply^ written two days later, the 
President sayS; among other things: "I am happy in the 
occasion it (your letter) presents of assuring you unequivo- 
cally that I have been entirely satisfied with your conduct in 
office, that I consider it for the public benefit that you should 
continue, & that I never have for one moment entertained a 
wish to the contrary. I will add, and with sincerity that I 
should with reluctance see any circumstance arise which 
should render your continuance in office inconsistent with 
your domestic interests or comfort, the possibility of which 
is intimated in your letter. Your deliberations with your 
family therefore on their removal hither may be safely bot- 
tomed on the sincerity of these dispositions on my part ; and 
I shall be happy if they should have the effect of determining 
their & your resolutions to that measure." To this letter of 
the President, Steele made the following reply : 

Washington, July 1st 1802. 

I am extremely gratified, and obliged by your favor of yesterday. 
It has determined me to postpone my journey to Carolina until the 
last week of this month which is the more agreeable to me, as my 
absence will then correspond with the general arrangements of the 

If my private affairs can possibly be made to admit of it, a sense 
of gratitude for what I consider equivalent to a new appointment 
will induce me to return : but whether in or out of office, I pray you 
to be assured, that I shall always consider it a flattering distinction 
to be honored with your confidence, and that it will be my study and 
my pride to merit the favorable opinion which you have had the 
goodness to express to me. 

I have the honor to be. Sir 

With the highest consideration 
Your most obedient servt 
Jno Steele 
Thomas Jefferson Esqre 

President of the United States. 

Upon his return to Salisbury on August 17, and after con- 
sultation with his family, all of whom like himself were in 
poor health. General Steele sent in his resignation to the 


gij, Salisbuby, September SOth 1802. 

After leaving the seat of government on the 6th of Augt last with 
the permission which you did me the favor to grant to me I arrived 
at this place on the 17th where I found my family in their usual 
health ; but I had been at home only a few days before nearly the 
whole of them (Mrs Steele of the number) were taken down with 
a fever which prevails very generally among the inhabitants of this 
part of the country. Scarcely a single family in our neighborhood 
can be said to have escaped. Mine continues to be so much indis- 
posed that I am under the necessity of relinquishing (for the pres- 
ent) the intention of removing them to the seat of government, and 
consequently of requesting that you will be pleased to accept my 
resignation of the office of Comptr of the Treasury. With my resig- 
nation you will I hope also have the goodness to accept an assurance, 
that I am duly sensible of your polite treatment and that in future 
it cannot but be a source of pleasing and grateful reflection to me 
to have been invited by you to continue in the public service. 
I have the honor to be, Sir 
With perfect consideration 

Your mot obt & hume servant 
Thomas Jefferson Esqre Jno Steele. 

President of the U. States. 

Bj this same post, Steele sent a letter to IlTatlianiel Macon, 
in which he says : ''Since the last of Aug* my family has 
been so much indisposed (Mrs. Steele of the number) that 
I have not in my power to make any arrangements in my 
private affairs preparatory to their removal to the seat of 
Grovemment, and it is too irksome to live there as I have done 
for some time past without them. Thus circumstanced I 
have found myself under the necessity of relinquishing (for 
the present) the intention of returning. The mail which 
carries this carries also a letter to the President requesting 
him to accept my resignation." At the same time, in a letter 
to the Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Gallatin, he says : "In 
conducting, for six years past, the business of an office dis- 
tinguished for the labor and responsibility which it imposes 
my first object has constantly been fidelity to the public, the 
second, a respectful deportment toward those with whom it 
was my duty to maintain official intercourse. It will afford 
me no small degree of gratification to understand that I have 
succeeded in these to your satisfaction." 


The genuine regret which Macon felt over Steele's resigna- 
tion is expressed in the following quotation from a letter to 
Steele, written from Buck Spring, Macon's plantation, on 
October 10, 1802 : "Yours of the 30 ultimo has been re- 
ceived, and it is with real sorrow that I learn of your determi- 
nation to resign. The reason which produces the resignation 
is surely a cogent one, but I think it probable that the season 
is approaching which will restore your family to health, and 
then you might with convenience have removed them to Wash- 
ing-ton. The office of Comptroller is surely among the most 
important in the TJ. S., especially as it relates to revenue; 
besides this, the settling accounts with foreigners, is one in 
which both the interest and honor of the nation are concerned ; 
nor can I close this sentence without repeating my sincere 
regret at your resignation ; who will be your successor I can- 
not even guess. 'No doubt many may be found willing 
enough to accept the office who know nothing of the duties ; 
and I devoutly wish that a successor may be found, adequate 
in all respects to the office; I know from the best authority 
that the President was highly pleased with your conduct 

The incident closes with Jefferson's letter to Steele (De^ 
cember 10, 1802), accepting his resignation, in which the 
President pays Steele this gracious tribute : 

Although in a former letter I expressed to you without disguise 
the satisfaction which your conduct in office since my coming into 
the administration had given me, yet I repeat it here with pleasure ; 
and testify to you that setting just value on the able services you 
rendered the public in the discharge of your official duties, I should 
have seen your continuance in office with real pleasure & satisfaction 
and I pray you to be assured that in the state of retirement you have 
proposed, you have my prayers for your happiness and prosperity, 
and my esteem and high consideration. 

Upon a number of occasions. General Steele was called 
upon by both the national and state governments, to exercise 
his diplomatic and executive talents as boundary commis- 


sioner. In 1797, Tennessee addressed a memorial and re- 
monstrance to the United States upon the subject of the 
Indian title to lands within that State. Following a discus- 
sion in 'Congress, President Adams appointed as commis- 
sioners for concluding a treaty with the Indians John Steele, 
Alfred Moore, and George Walton. After preliminary nego- 
tiations were conducted in midsummer, 1798, the definitive 
treaty was concluded at Tellico on October 2, 1798, the 
Hon, George Walton and Lieut.-Colonel Thomas Butler act- 
ing as commissioners on behalf of the United States — Moore 
having returned to ISTorth Carolina and Steele having re- 
turned to Philadelphia to resume his duties as Comptroller 
of the Treasury. 

Pursuant to a resolution passed by the State of ISTorth- 
Carolina in 1801, the correspondence between the governors 
of ISTorth Carolina and South Carolina resulting therefrom, 
and the passage of certain acts of the general assembly of 
ISTorth Carolina in 1803 and 1804, Governor James Turner 
in October, 1805, appointed as commissioners on the l^orth 
Carolina-South Carolina boundary line General John Steele, 
Colonel John Moore, and General James Wellborn. After 
a series of meetings between the commissioners of the two 
States, an extended conference was held at Columbia, S. C, 
in July, 1808, and articles of agreement were drawn up. 
Disagreement arising over the third article of the "Conven- 
tional Agreement," another set of commissioners was ap- 
pointed in December, 1812, by Governor William Hawkins, 
to wit: John Steele, Montfort Stokes, and Robert Burton. 
Following a series of conferences with the South Carolina 
commissioners, a provisional article was entered into on 
September 4, 1813, which was ratified by the two States; 
and the line was accordingly run and marked. General 
Steele, who played the leading part in this difiicult and deli- 
cate negotiation, gained universal approbation for the ability, 
tactfulness, and skill which he displayed throughout. 

The most difiicult of all the boundary disputes which 


General Steele was concerned in settling was the famous con- 
troversy between Georgia and ]^ortli Carolina over tiie "or- 
phan strip," a tract of territory some twelve miles wide in 
Buncombe County, ISTorth Carolina, which Georgia in 1803 
erected into the county of Walton. This territory lay south 
of the thirty-fifth degTce of latitude, as then located; but 
grave doubts were raised as to the proper location of this line. 
I^Torth Carolina scientists having located this line far to the 
south of where it was supposed to run, North Carolina served 
notice upon Georgia in 1805 of her claim to the territory as 
part of Buncombe County. Following disturbances in the 
territory. Governor Jared Irwin of Georgia wrote Governor 
ISTathaniel Alexander of North Carolina, suggesting the ap- 
pointment of commissioners to settle the disputed boundary. 
On January 1, 1807, Governor Alexander appointed John 
Steele, John Moore, and James Wellborn as conunissioners ; 
and the Rev. Joseph Caldwell, President of the University 
of North Carolina, acted as scientist for the State in making 
the observations. When the thirty-fifth degree of latitude 
was run, it was found to be "twenty-two miles within old 
Buncombe" — much to the astonishment of the Georgians ; 
and it was agreed by all that the actual line ran a little south 
of Caesar's Head. The provisional agreement entered into 
by the commissioners on June 27, 1807, led to an extended 
controversy, which was finally productive of considerable 
bloodshed. North Carolina ratified the agreement ; but Geor- 
gia refused to accept the findings of her own commissioners. 
Having once already appealed to Congress for settlement, 
Georgia again in 1807 appealed to Congress, but unsuccess- 
fully — Congress paying no attention to the matter. For the 
next three years, Georgia persisted without success in her 
efforts to retain the territory ; and finally North Carolina had 
to dispatch a company of State militia in December, 1810, 
to take possession of the county of Walton. Two pitched 
battles, and some small skirmishes, in which a number of 

lives were lost, were fought before the Georgians were finally 


ousted and the so-called coTinty of Walton, Georgia, was 
finally merged into Buncombe County, ISTortli Carolina. 


Wlien General Steele resigned his post as Comptroller of 
the Treasury, it was his intention to devote his leisure to the 
pleasures of polite literature, in particular the reading of 
French works in which he was proficient ; to improvements in 
agriculture on a scientific and intensive basis ; and to the calm 
enjoyments of domestic life in the bosom of his family, 
which had so long been denied him. "These," he observed 
to Macon, "will fill up my time to the exclusion of politicks, 
and with them I trust every passion which co'uld disturb a 
virtuous and tranquil retirement." General Steele had quite 
extensive land holdings, including plantations and town lots. 
The two major properties were the beautiful plantation of 
eight hundred acres, "Lethe," on the Yadkin River below the 
Trading Ford and next to Albert Torrence's plantation ; and 
"Lombardy," the estate near Salisbury where his family 
resided, including upwards of nine hundred acres. The 
dwelling house, which was erected in the first years of the 
last century on the latter property, is today in excellent 
preservation, although modernized in appearance. 

The members of the Steele family, as their letters show, 
were on terms of delightful ease and informality in their 
intellectual intercourse with each other — a relationship some- 
what unusual in an age marked by stilted language and 
formal deportment. Ann N^essfield was educated at Dr. 
Van Vleck's famous Moravian School at Bethlehem, Penn- 
sylvania; and she spent a good deal of time with her father. 
Mrs. Steele seldom went on to Washington or Philadelphia ; 
and General Steele's enforced absence from home for long 
periods of time was a source of continuing regret to all the 
family. Of the children of General and Mrs. Steele, three 
died in infancy — one bom at Salisbury who died without a 
name in the summer of 1Y86 ; a son, William, who was born 


at Salisbury on March 18, 1793, and died August 18, 1Y94; 
and another son, born in Philadelphia on January 4, 1798, 
who died May 4 following without a name, the body being 
interred in the Pine Street Meeting House burying ground. 
Three daughters survived: Ann iN^essfield, bom January 27, 
1784, who was married to General Jesse A. Pearson on Feb- 
ruary 13, 1804, and died October 4 of the same year; Eliza- 
beth, born August 5, 1795, who was married on June 28, 
1814, to Colonel Robert Macnamara, a prominent citizen of 
Salisbury, and died at Annsfield, near Salisbury, ISTovember 
28, 1834; and Margaret Gillespie, bom January 31, 1790, 
who was married to Dr. Stephen Lee Ferrand, a distinguished 
physician of Salisbury, on March 3, 1819, and died, as did 
her infant also, on May 13, 1824. 

After his retirement from public life. General Steele as- 
siduously devoted himself to that course of general reading 
which, as he expressed it to Macon, "keeps me employed with 
the hope of becoming a more intelligent and useful member 
of society." After the model of Washington, he carried out 
experiments in improved modes of agriculture ; managed his 
estate with efficiency and economy ; and in particular, devoted 
no little attention to the rearing and racing of blooded horses. 
He was a leading figure in the Salisbury Jockey Club; and 
the annual races run there were conducted according to regu- 
lations which he drew up. Probably the most famous of his 
racing horses were the blood-bay, "Statesburg," whose per- 
formances on the turf were pronounced by contemporary 
authorities to "have equalled if not surpassed those of any 
horse of his size on the Continent" ; and "Midas," another 
famous racing horse of wonderful speed. These and others 
of his blooded horses ran in the big races of the day — at Salis- 
bury, Cheraw, Camden, and Charleston. 

While living the life of the gentleman farmer, who assidu- 
ously read the classics and the standard works of polite litera- 
ture, and carried on an extensive correspondence with the 
leading men of the day, General Steele was by no means 


divorced from public activity during the last decade of his 
life. There were the onerous and exacting duties of bound- 
ary commissioner, which involved considerable correspond- 
ence and the writing of voluminous reports. Moreover, 
General Steele was frequently called upon to represent the 
Salisbury District in the House of Commons. He served in 
the Legislatures of 1806, 1811, 1812, and 1813, sometimes 
as Speaker of the House; and he was elected for another 
term on the day of his death, August 14, 1815. 


John Steele is said to have been one of the most versatile 
men ISTorth Carolina has ever produced. Grave in tempera- 
ment and of a serious bent of mind, he always conducted 
himself with gTeat dignity ; and he was seldom seen to smile. 
The portrait of him, made by the famous miniaturist, James 
Peale, in 1797, portrays a man both handsome and bland. 
At the height of his career he was credited with being the 
most popular man in ISTorth Carolina, 

The inscription upon his tombstone and contemporary 
obituaries speak best of the man and the place he filled in the 
life of the time. The marble shaft in the private burial 
ground at "Lombardy," now known as "Steeleworth," bears 
the following inscription : 

In the Memory of 


Died, Aug. 14, 1815 

Age 50 

Consecrated by Conjugal 


Filial Affection 

An Enlightened Statesman 

A Vigilant Patriot 

An Accomplished Gentleman. 

The Archives of his Country testify the services of Ms 

short but useful life. Long will that country 

deplore his loss, but vphen vrill this sequestered 

spot cease to witness the sacred sorrow 

of his Family and Friends. 



The following obituary (Tile Star of Raleigh, August 25, 
1815) requires no commentary: 

"A great man lias fallen in Israel." 













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divorced from public activity during the last decade of his 
life. There were the onerous and exacting duties of bound- 
ary commissioner, which involved considerable correspond- 
ence and the writing of voluminous reports. Moreover, 
General Steele was frequently called upon to represent the 
Salisbury District in the House of Commons. He served in 
the Legislatures of 1806, 1811, 1812, and 1813, sometimes 
as Speaker of the House; and he was elected for another 
term on the day of his death, August 14, 1815. 


John Steele is said to have been one of the most versatile 
men ISTorth Carolina has ever produced. Grave in tempera- 
ment and of a serious bent of mind, he always conducted 
himself with great dignity ; and he was seldom seen to smile. 
The portrait of him, made by the famous miniaturist, James 
Peale, in 1797, portrays a man both handsome and bland. 
At the height of his career he was credited with being the 
most popular man in North Carolina. 

The inscription upon his tombstone and contemporary 
obituaries speak best of the man and the place he filled in the 
life of the time. The marble shaft in the private burial 
ground at "Lo'mbardy," now known as "Steeleworth," bears 
the following inscription : 

In the Memory of 


Died, Aug. 14, 1815 

Age 50 

Consecrated by Conjugal 


Filial AfEection 

An Enlightened Statesman 

A Vigilant Patriot 

An Accomplished Gentleman. 

The Archives of his Country testify the services of his 

short but useful life. Long will that country 

deplore his loss, but when will this sequestered 

spot cease to witness the sacred sorrow 

of his Family and Friends. 

The North CaroUna Booklet 

Great Events in North Carolina History 

Volume XIX of The Booklet will be issued quarterly by the 
North Carolina Society, Daughters of the Revolution, beginning July, 
1919. The Booklet will be published in July, October, January, and 
April. Price $1.00 per year, .35 cents for single copy. 

Editok : 
Miss Mary Hilliard Hinton. 

Biographical Editor : 
Mrs. E. E, Moffitt. 

Social Life in the Sixties. 
William Boylan, Editor of The Minerva. 
History of Transportation in North Carolma. 
Services of the North Carolina Women in the World War. 
Literature and Libraries in the Nineteenth Century in North 

Confederate Currency — William West Bradbeer. 

How Patriotic Societies Can Help to Preserve the Records of the 
World War. 

History of Some Famous Carolina Summer Resorts. 

History of Agriculture in North Carolina — Major W. A. Graham. 

The Old Borough Town of Salisbury — Dr. Archibald Henderson. 

Mr. Frank Nash. 

Brief Historical Notes will appear from time to time in The 
Booklet, information that is worthy of preservation, but which if not 
preserved in a permanent form will be lost. 

Historical Book Reviews will be contributed. These will be re- 
views of the latest historical works written i)y North Carolinians. 

The Genealogical Department will be continued with a page devoted 
to Genealogical Queries and Answers as an aid to genealogical re- 
search in the State. 

The North Carolina Society Colonial Dames of America will fur- 
nish copies of unpublished records for publication in The Booklet. 

Biographical Sketches will be continued under Mrs. E. E. Moffit. 

Old Letters, heretofore unpublished, bearing on the Social Life of 
the different periods of North Carolina History, will appear here- 
after in The Booklet. 

This list of subjects may be changed, as circumstances sometimes 
prevent the writers from keeping their engagements. 

The histories of the separate counties will in the future be a 
special feature of The Booklet. When necessary, an entire issue 
will be devoted to a paper on one county. 

Parties who wish to renew their subscriptions to The Booklet 
for Vol. XIX are requested to give notiee at once. 

Many numbers of Volumes I to XVIII for sale. 

For particulars address 

Miss Mary Hilliard Hinton, 

Editor TSlortli Carolina Booklet, 
"Midway Plantation," Raleigh, N. C. 



divorced from public activity during the last decade of his 
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of his Family and Friends. 


The following obituary (TAie 8tar of Raleigh, August 25, 
1815) requires no commentary: 

"A great man has fallen in Israel." 
Died, a few days ago, at his seat near Salisbury, General John 
Steele, long known as a distinguished statesman. — General Steele 
was a member of Congress soon after the adoption of the Constitu- 
tion, contributed his full share to the establishment of the Govern- 
ment, and to give effect to those measures and policies which were 
pursued under the first administrations. He was afterwards for 
several years Comptroller of the Treasury of the United States, and 
has since occasionally been a Member of the Legislature of his native 
State. . . . The knowledge of General Steele was various and 
profound, and his reasoning powers great. Among the political sages 
of our country he has left a chasm that will not easily be filled. 


Life and Services of Colonel Jonas Johnston'' 

By Kemp Davis Battle 

Wlien I received Miss Hintoii's cordial invitation to take 
part in these interesting proceedings, tliere were two things 
in her letter which I particularly noted: first, that my 
address was to be read ; second, that it was to be, to use her 
tactful language, "not of great length." I shall give myself 
the benefit of the first provision and I shall try to give you 
the benefit of the second. 

At the outset, I desire to acknowledge my obligations to 
Miss Hinton for furnishing me the material for this modest 
sketch. She has manifasted the enthusiastic and patient 
diligence of the historian in assembling every available record 
and reference bearing upon the life of her distinguished 
ancestor. Indeed, what I say today adds very little to a 
paper read by her before the ISTorth Carolina Society of the 
Daughters of the Revolution. 

The biographical data in reference to Colonel Johnston's 
life is comparatively meager. He was born in Southampton 
County, Virginia, in 1740, the son of Jacob Johnston and 
Mary Waller Johnston. During his early youth, his parents 
removed to Edgecombe County, which was thenceforth his 
home. In estimating his talents and character, it is impor- 
tant to remember that Jonas Johnston was raised a plain, 
simple, hard-working farmer, with no education save that 
which strong minds are able to extract from the stream of 
practical experience. In 1768, at the home of Aquilla Suggs, 
near Tarboro, he was married to Esther Maun or Maund, 
of J^orfolk iCounty, Virginia, a woman who, in good sense, in 
resourcefulness, and in strength of character, seems to have 
been quite his equal. Both parties had in ample measure 

* Address by Kemp Davis Battle, a descendant of Major Amos Johnston, 
delivered at the presentation of a tablet to Colonel Jonas Johnston by The 
North Carolina Historical Commission and the Board of County Commis- 
sioners of Edgecombe, to the County of Edgecombe. It was accepted by the 
Chairman, William G. Clark. Published by request. 


that self-reliance, that ability to rise to any emergency, that 
capacity to maintain one's footing no matter how fast may 
flow the stream of difficulty or adversity, in a word, that 
"spiritual toughness" which makes the lives of our pioneering 
forefathers so entrancingly picturesque. 

Emergencies seem always to produce or to discover men 
of unusual strength to deal with them, and so it was with 
Jonas Johnston. To us who live in an age when electric 
communication has girdled the globe; when our morning 
newspaper chronicles every sig-nificant happening from one 
end of the earth to the other; when the jungles of Africa, 
the steppes of Russia, the plains of Tibet and the pampas of 
Argentine alike seem almost around the corner; when man 
travels with equal ease under the sea, through the air, and 
upon the crust of the earth ; when the telephone and the tele- 
graph are beginning to seem archaic, as wizard inventors 
weave us fantastic tales of individual automatic wireless 
telephones carried like a bunch of keys in the pocket; when 
the automobile, having vanquished the horse, begins to trem- 
ble at the advent of the aeroplane; to us, I say, it is almost 
impossible to comprehend the material and physical diffi- 
culties with which our forefathers contended at the time of 
the Revolution. Communication was by coach, by carriage, 
by wagon, by horseback or by foot. The roads, measured by 
present standards, were impassable. Public schools were 
unknown, education was the boon of the favored few. When 
we bear these conditions in mind, it should excite equally our 
humility and our amazement to contemplate the intelligence, 
the comprehension, the wisdom, the foresight and the ideal- 
ism of that noble band of patriots who builded our Republic. 
In that great task, Jonas Johnston, unlettered plowboy, but 
endowed by nature with strength of character and of mind 
buttressed with courage and determination, played a man's 
full part. 

Espousing from the beginning the cause of liberty, John- 
ston, who was then in his thirties, early became a leader. He 


was conspicuous at the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, where 
he manifested the coolness and intrepidity under danger which 
characterized his brief but gallant military career. In those 
early days, the struggle which finally terminated in our inde- 
pendence, bore largely the earmarks of a civil dispute. The 
Tories were numerous, influential, and bold. A preliminary 
period of strife was necessary before the colonies were able 
to organize a comparatively united front against the English 
arms. Johnston did yeoman's service in this work. On one 
occasion he organized at Tarboro a band of volunteers which 
he led dovsm to the Cape Fear River where a Tory uprising 
was causing grave anxiety. The expedition was entirely 
successful and it was probably in recognition of his services 
that he was given a commission as First Major by the Provin- 
cial CongTess at Halifax. This was on April 22, 17Y6. 
From that time on he was constantly engaged in the fight 
for freedom. It is true that he missed a good deal of time 
from the military forces while attending various sessions of 
the Provincial Congress, of which more hereafter. His neces- 
sary absence from his regiment and his early death doubtless 
prevented him from attaining the reputation as a military 
leader which would otherwise have been his. I^Tevertheless, 
his record in that respect is one of which his descendants may 
well be proud. 

But before actual fighting could begin, there was much 
preliminary work to be done. Johnston was not found want- 
ing. When the Council of State met at 'N&w Bern, Septem- 
ber 2, 1Y77, the Governor laid before the board the resolve 
of Congress to divide the States into districts with one person 
in each district to recruit men to fill the regiments raised in 
such State. For Edgecombe, Jonas Johnston was appointed. 
(State Records 22, page 926.) The Provincial Congress at 
Halifax, April 19, 17Y6, appointed Henry Horn and Jonas 
Johnston "to receive, procure, and purchase firearms for the 
use of the troops." (State Records 10, page 525.) When 
the Council of State met at Kinston, December, 1778, Col. 
Jonas Johnston laid before the board an account for sundries 


furnished the militia marching from Edgecombe. The Gov- 
ernor advised the board to grant a warrant on Treasury in 
favor of Col. Johnston for 400 pounds. (State Records 22, 
page 942.) A letter written by Major Johnston (now a 
Lieutenant-Colonel) to Governor Caswell, under date of 
iJ^ovember 24, 1778, and found in State Records 13, page 
298, is so illuminating as to the difficulties which our hero 
was encountering and so eloquent of his resourcefulness and 
determination, that I venture to quote it in full : 

May it please your Excellency : I have herewith sent you the 
Commissions of Capt. Davis and Ensign Gay, resigned, the former 
through infirmity, the latter through cowardice and as no Ensign 
offers to supply the place of Gay our detachment is without any 
Captain. Lee who now heads the Company, is a volunteer, who 
accepted the office in the room of Davis resigned, and as I have no 
blank commissions he is without. One Absolum Barnes, our Lieu- 
tenant, has a commission. I am sorry to inform your Excellency 
of so many resignations at present, but it is out of my power to help 
it. I have furnished Capt. Lee with 934 lbs. of beef, 2 barrels of 
meal, and 8 pots and 8 axes, and am happy to inform your Excel- 
lency that the men are mostly in good health, and now on duty ; are 
in high spirits and resolved to encounter every difficulty. I can only 
add, I am sorry that more of our old Captains would not go with 
them, as I think so large a detachment deserves a good Captain 
and so no more at present but Sir I still remain. 

Tour Excellency's mo. huml. servt., 

Jonas Johnston. 

N. B. — The other detachment is now drafting, and will march 
as soon as possible. J. J. 

One can form from the foregoing disconnected incidents 
some slight estimate of the patriotic and valuable work per- 
formed by Colonel Johnston in the immensely important task 
of raising and equipping and drilling the troops which were 
to test their mettle with the British. Indeed, a little reflec- 
tion leads to the conclusion that this harassing and sometimes 
disheartening work was more far-reaching in its results than 
gallantry on the field of battle. At length, however, Colonel 
Johnston took command of his regiment, and with Colonel 
Caswell marched to South Carolina where help was greatly 
needed. The best record of his activities there is contained 


in a series of letters written by him to the Grovernors of North 
and South Carolina. These letters bear unmistakable evi- 
dence of the man's statesmanlike judgment and indomitable 
will-power. His career ended with the Battle of Stono Ferry, 
fought June 20, 1779. In this engagement he greatly dis- 
tinguished himself by his personal courage and the skill with 
which he handled his men. Tradition has it that the title 
of General was conferred on him by the War Department for 
bravery in the Battle of Stono Ferry, but this cannot be veri- 
fied. The wound which he received that day deprived the 
country of a leader of very great promise. Suffering both 
from wounds and sickness, he was granted a furlough and 
started on his journey home. His wife set out from Edge- 
combe to meet him, traveling in a gig, and attended only by 
a colored servant. He reached the home of a Mr. Amis on 
Drowning Creek, S. C, where on July 29, 1779, he died. 
The sword which he wore at Stono Ferry and which had 
been captured from the Hessians, was inherited by Governor 
Elias Carr and is now in the Arts and Industry Building, 
Smithsonian Institution, in Washington. 

At the present time, Colonel Johnston is usually thought of 
as a soldier, but it was probably in civil life that he achieved 
greater eminence and made a greater contribution to his coun- 
try. And here I must again call to your attention the fact 
that he never received a formal education and that his success 
was purely the result of his natural strength of mind and 
integrity of character. I quote from an article in the North 
Carolina University Magazine of April, 1861, written by 
Jeremiah Battle, M.D. : "Although he was almost destitute 
of education, he was a considerable orator ; and whenever he 
rose to speak in those public assemblies the greatest attention 
was paid to his opinions, as they ever carried the strongest 
marks of good sense. His language was bold and nervous ; 
well adapted to incite the people to patriotic exertion. He 
was modest, yet competent, prompt and decisive." It is to 
be understood that the word "education" is used in the sense 


of "sch-ooling." Using the word in its widest sense, he did 
have an education. Colonel Johnston was a member of the 
Provincial CongTess from 1Y76 to 1779, inclusive, and took 
a promient part in its affairs. It may be interesting to name 
some of the committees on which he served, as follows : Com- 
mittee on Enquiry; on Consideration of Messages from the 
President of the Congress; Claims and Accounts; to Estab- 
lish Courts of Justice of the Peace; on the Disposition of 
the Public Salt; on the Erection of a State House, Land 
Office, and Treasurer's Office; to Examine the Accounts of 
the Paymaster-General; to Devise Means for Paying for a 
Quantity of Cannon brought in by the Ship Holy Jesus ; and 
the Committee to Raise Men to March to the Southward." 
He must have taken the last appointment very much to heart, 
as he ended by marching southward himself — to his death. 

Among the bills which he introduced were the following: 
"A bill to regulate the fees of Justices of the Peace and Clerks 
of the Superior Court;" "A bill to construct a bridge over 
Contentnea Creek;" "A bill to dock the entails of land;" 
and "A bill for emitting 850,000 pounds in bills of credit for 
discharging debts incurred by the State in raising men to 
reinforce the battalions belonging to this State in the Conti- 
nental Army; and calling in all former emissions and for 
other purposes." To me there is something very impressive 
in the picture of this unlettered Edgecombe farmer intro- 
ducing the financial measures for meeting the State's needs 
in those anxious and trying times. We find him voting in 
the affirmative on the bill to confiscate the property of all 
those inimical to the United States. He voted "yea" on ''A 
bill for levying a tax for the year 1779, that the bill be 
amended by levying a tax of three pence on each pound of 
taxable property instead of two pence." It sometimes takes 
as high a quality of courage to face popular disfavor by voting 
to increase taxes as it does to face a cannon volley. These 
fragmentary references to Colonel Johnston's legislative ca- 
reer do not purport to do more than cast a flickering spot- 


light on his manifold activities. I think they do^ however, 
suffice to present to us a man of progressive ideals, respected 
among his fellows for his practical knowledge and experience, 
successfully active in a variety of fields, a substantial, force- 
ful, forward looking patriot. 

As we are largely indebted for this occasion to Colonel 
Johnston's descendants, it seems permissible to give some 
account of his family and connections. His wife, Esther 
Maun, must have been a woman of great strength of character. 
When the war came. Colonel Johnston had just started to 
erect a residence. The frame dwelling had been completed 
on the outside, and the laths within were ready for the plas- 
tering. Work was necessarily suspended and was not re- 
sumed during the owner's lifetime. Colonel Johnston was 
less than 40 years of age at his death and had given too much 
of his time and attention to public matters to have accumu- 
lated any considerable property. Mrs. Johnston was left 
with a small farm and five small children. Devoting all her 
energy and resources to the education of her children, she 
abandoned all plans for completing her home and did not 
resume the work until each child had received what was for 
that age a good education. By industry and economy she 
met with entire success the responsibilities which her hus- 
band's death imposed upon her and won the respect and ad- 
miration of all her neighbors. For the last 15 years of her 
life she was paralyzed but reached the ripe age of 89 years. 
She is buried on the Johnston plantation, now belonging to 
the Cobbs of Vinedale. The grave is marked by a tombstone 
erected by Jonas Johnston Carr, the railing by the Ruffins. 
I quote the words of one who knew her : "Her own dissolu- 
tion she looked to without fear, though helpless in body she 
was strong in faith, and her lamp burned clearer as her sun 
of life shed its last rays on the fleeting pleasures of this 

The only children of Jonas Johnston and his good wife 
which survived and left descendants were four daughters: 


Elizabetli, who married first, Jolm Bell, second John An- 
drews ; Celia, who married first, Jesse Hines, and second 
Elias Carr ; Prudence, who married Peter Hines ; and Mary, 
who married Samuel Ruffin. Among their descendants are 
the names of the following families: Bell, Hines, Carr, 
Prince, Blount, Vines, Cobb, Rufiin, Andrews, Barnes, Plorne 
and Hinton, 

Among those who have attained distinction of various kinds 
are the following: Hon. Bichard Hines, CongTessman from 
JSTorth Carolina; Jonas Johnston Carr, of "Bracebridge 
Hall," southern planter; Dr. Peter Evans Hines, Surgeon 
Provisional Army Confederate States ; Col. A. B. Andrews, 
railroad builder ; Grovernor Elias Carr ; Mrs. David Hinton, a 
representative of the best Southern Womanhood ; Miss Mary 
Hilliard Hinton, personally known to all present; R. A. 
Blount, son of R. E. Blount of Paris, a Lieutenant of the 
Foreign Legion, and a wearer of the Croix de Gruerre with 
Palms for gallantry at Verdun ; and William Kearny Carr of 
Washington, D. C, who died some two or three years ago. 
W. K. Carr was a scientist and student of the very highest 
rank. In my opinion he possessed probably the most com- 
prehensive and powerful intellect which Edgecombe County 
has ever produced. 

And so, ladies and gentlemen, I hold it altogether fitting 
that we should meet to pay a tribute of respect to this sturdy 
patriot. By his heavy labors in raising and equipping troops 
to fight in the cause of freedom, by his wise statesmanship 
in our legislative assemblies, by the sacrifice of his life in 
defense of our common country, and by his useful and dis- 
tinguished posterity, he has put the State of ISTorth Carolina 
as well as the county of Edgecombe very much in his debt. 
It is good that this tablet will adorn our courthouse as his 
memory adorns our history. 

Mr. Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, it 
is my high pleasure and distinguished privilege, on behalf of 
the State Historical Commission, the County Commissioners, 


and Colonel Johnston's descendants to present tlirougli you 
to the county of Edgecombe this memorial to her worthy son. 
May future generations of her citizens by it be inspired to 
emulate his example and to cherish his memory. 


Family tradition claims that Colonel Johnston's father 
came to America from the north of England. The family 
is not of Scottish origin. 

Governor Henry Toole Clark was well versed in the geneal- 
ogy of the prominent families of his county (Edgecombe). 
It was he who compiled and arranged the "Johnston Fam.ily 
Tree/' some copies of which are today carefully preserved 
by the descendants of the hero of Stono Ferry. 

Colonel Jonas Johnston was an Episcopalian. His Prayer 
Book is in the possession of descendants in I^orth Carolina. 

At the General Assembly held at I^ew Bern ISTovember, 
1777, "Mr. Jonas Johnston presented a petition fro-m a 
number of inhabitants of Edgecombe County, praying to 
have the same divided." 

In 1776 the Convention established "An ordinance for 
appointing Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs and Constables for 
the several counties in this State, for erecting County Courts 
for the purposes of holding sessions of the Peace, and putting 
into execution the laws relative to Orphans, Guardians, and 
highways until provisions shall be made by the General As- 
sembly for the same." Jonas Johnston was appointed a 
"Justice for keeping the Peace in Edgecombe. The other 
J. P.'s appointed for Edgecombe at the same time were: 
Aquila Sugg, Edward Moore, Samuel Puffin, Duncan Lamon, 
Elisha Battle, William Haywood, Sherwood Haywood, Henry 
El-win, Joseph Williamson, John Thomas, Matthew Drake, 
IN'oah Sugg, Robert Bignall, ]S[athan Bodie, Exum Lewis, 
William Hall, Isaac Sessums, Jacob Dickinson, Arthur Ar- 
rington, and Joseph Pender, Esquires." 


In the spring of 1Y78 Colonel Johnston was appointed 
entry taker for Edgecombe, which office he accepted. This 
prevented his holding his seat in the General Assembly, ac- 
cording to the twenty-fifth section of the Constitution, which 
did not allow "a receiver of public monies" "a seat in the 
General Assembly." On April 28, 1778, a motion was car- 
ried to fill the seat "vacated by his acceptance of the entry 
taker^s office." However, on August 3, 1778, he appeared 
as a member of the General Assembly, so he must have re- 
signed the county office. 

"At a Council held at Kinston, the 9th September, 1779, 
"Resolved, The Governor be advised to appoint Henry 
Hart, Esq., Colonel of the Company of Edgecombe, in the 
room of Colonel Johnston, deceased ; Isaac Sessums, Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel; Henry Home, First Major, and Amos Johnston, 
Second Major." 


A Composition by John Graham 

Afterwards Dr. John Graham, as a Student at Queen's 
Museum, Charlotte, N. C, July 30, 1776 


My worthy Auditors: Sensible of my inability to ap- 
pear as a pnblick speaker before you here today with appro- 
bation, I would request this of you before whom I have the 
honour of declaiming from this stage, that if the subject 
which I shall treat of, be not discussed to as great perfection 
as it might be (which I confess is the case) you will judge 
of my performance with mildness and candor. 

I have often wondered that learning is not thought a proper 
ingredient in the education of women. For seeing they have 
the same improveable and docile minds as the male part of 
the species, why should they not be cultivated by the same 
method ? Why should reason be left to itself in one of the 
sexes and be cultivated with so much care and diligence in 
the other ? Why should man's reasonable companion be left 
to wander in the dark Vale of Ignorance whilst he is per- 
mitted to glide along in the flowery Paths of Learning ? 

There are several reasons why learning seems equally 
adapted to the female world as to the male. As in the first 
place, because they have more spare time on their hands and 
lead a more sedentary life. Their employments are for the 
most part of a domestic nature and not like those of the other 
sex, which are often inconsistent with study and contempla- 
tion, as being harrassing and disturbing to the mind. 

A second reason why women should apply themselves to 
the study of useful knowledge as well as men is because they 
have that natural gift of speech, that velocity of the little 

* Dr. Graham was an older brother of Gen. Joseph Graham. Upon his grad- 
uation in 1778 he was awarded a diploma, which is the only diploma granted by- 
Queen's Museum now in existence. 


machine called the tongue, in much greater perfection. And 
seeing they have so excellent a talent, such a Copia Verborum, 
or plenty of words, it is a pity they should not put it to some 
commendable use. 

If the female tongTie will be in motion, why should it not 
be set to go right ? Could they discourse on philosophical 
subjects, or on the revolutions of antiquity, it might possibly 
divert them from publishing the faults, disclosing the secrets, 
and blemishing the character of their neighbors: could they 
talk of the different aspects and conjunctions of the planets, 
they need not be at the pains to comment upon ogiings and 
clandestine marriages. In short, were they furnished with 
matters of fact out of the arts and sciences, it would now and 
then be of great ease to their invention. 

There is another reason why those especially who are 
women of quality should apply themselves to letters, namely, 
because their husbands are sometimes strangers to them ; and 
it seems to me to be a matter truly lamentable that there 
should be no knowledge in a family either by the father or 

To what is it owing, unless to the illiterateness or neglect 
of parents, that we see so many impudent, ill-bred children, 
who not being restrained in their childhood from, but rather 
indulged in, their youthful fancies ; arriving at manhood and 
their licentiousness increasing proportionably, they become 
rude and insolent to their superiors, subject neither to minis- 
ters or magistrates, not even to parents themselves, but, as 
the celebrated Mr. Young says : 

"Ripe from the tutor, proud of liberty, 
He leaps enclosure, bounds into the world ; 
The world is taken, after ten years toil, 
Like ancient Troy ; and all its joys his own. 

"Alas, the world's a tutor more severe, 
Its lessons hard, and ill deserved his pains ; 
Unteaching all his virtues Nature taught, 
Or Books (fair Nature's advocates) inspired." 


From whence proceeds this misfoTtiuie, that so many 
flourishing branches, who might have become useful members 
of society, an honor to their parents, and an ornament to their 
country, should shoot up as it were into so many cumbersome 
trees, spending their life in inactivity and sloth, lying by 
among the number and refuse of mankind, unless from a bad 
or rather no education ? 

Another reason why women ought to be educated p'roceeds 
from the many advantages which are consequences therefrom ; 
for the tutelage of children being almost solely in the hands 
of mothers, they have the most excellent opportunity of in- 
fusing the noblest principles into them, of rooting out the 
very seeds of vice, and by turning off the stream at the foun- 
tain into proper channels, before that the water may have 
worn deep the natural channel with its swift running current ; 
they might by this means convey the stream between rocks 
and precipices into foreign lands, and distant nations receive 
the benefit of the increasing rivulet, and reap the advantages 
of it a thousand years hence. 

If we look into the histories of famous women, we find 
many eminent philosophers of this sex; nay, we find that 
several females have distinguished themselves in those 
branches of philosophy which seem almost repugnant to 
their natures. 

There have been famous Pythagoreans, notwithstanding 
most of that philosophy consisted in keeping a secret, and 
that the disciple was to hold her tongue five years together. 
I need not mention Portia, who was a stoic in petticoats : now 
Hipparthia, the famous she-cynick. 

Learning and knowledge are perfections in us, not as we 
are men, but as we are reasonable creatures, in which order 
of beings the female world is upon the same level with the 
male. We ought to consider in this particular, not what is 
the sex, but what is the species to which they belong. At 
least, I believe every one will allow lae, that a female phi- 
losopher is not so absurd a character and so opposite to the 


sex, as a female gamester; and that it is more irratiorial for 
a woman to pass away her time at cards or dice, I might 
likewise have said in immoderate dressing, than in laying 
up stores of useful learning. This therefore is another rea- 
son why I would recommend the study of knowledge to the 
female world, that they may not be at a loss how to employ 
those vacant hours that lie heavy on their hands. 

I might also add this motive to my fair auditors, that sev- 
eral of their sex^ who have improved their minds by books 
and literature, have raised themselves to the highest posts 
of honor and fortune, but I shall conclude this head with the 
history of Athenais, which is a very signal example to my 
present purpose. 

The Emporor Theodosius being about the age of one and 
twenty and designing to take a wife, desired his sister, Pul- 
cheria, and his friend, Paulinus, to search his whole empire 
for a woman of the most exquisite beauty and highest accom- 
plishments. In the midst of this search, Athenais, a Grecian 
virgin, accidentally offered herself. 

Her father, who was an eminent philosopher at Athens, 
and had bred her up in all the learning of that renowned 
place, at his death left her a very small portion, in which 
also she suifered great hardships from the injustice of her 
two brothers. 

This forced her upon a journey to Constantinople, where 
she had a relation who represented her case to Pulcheria in 
order to obtain some redress from the Emperor. By this 
means that religious princess became acquainted with Athen- 
ais, whom she found the most beautiful woman of her age 
and educated under a long course of philosophy in the strictest 
virtue and most innocence. Pulcheria was charmed with her 
conversation and immediately reported to the Emperor, her 
brother, Theodosius. The character she gave made such an 
impression on him that he desired his sister to bring her away 
immediately to the lodging of his friend, Paulinus, where he 
found her beauty and her conversation beyond the highest 


idea lie liad framed of thein. His friend, Paulinus, con- 
verted lier to Christianity and gave her the name of Eudosia ; 
after which the Emperor publickly espoused her, and enjoyed 
all the happiness in his marriage which he had promised him- 
self from such a virtuous and learned bride. She not only 
forgave the injuries which her two brothers had done her, 
but raised them to great honours; and by several works of 
learning, as well as by an exemplary life, made herself so dear 
to the whole empire that she had many statues erected to her 
memory and is celebrated of the church as the Ornament of 
her Sex. John Graham. 

July 30, 1776. 





Isaac Shelby— Part II 3- 56 

By Archibald Hendesison 

Negro Soldiers 57- 62 

By Chief Justice Walter Olabk 

North Carolina's Dead 63 

Other North CarolLaa Heroines 64- 75 

By Mary Hilliard Hinton 

History of the Superior and Supreme Courts of North Carolina 79-104 
By Chief Justice Walter Clark 

William Bryan of Craven County, Brigadier-General in the 

American Revolution 105-115 

By William Hollister 

For Whom Was Edgecombe County Named? 116-119 

By Gaston Lighten stein 

Biographical and Genealogical Memoranda 120-121 

By Mrs. E. E. Moffitt 

John Steele 123-133 

By Archibald Henderson 

Thomas Benbury — a Brigadier-General of the American Revo- 

tion 134-142 

By Emily Ryan Benbury Haywood 

The Trial of Henry Wirz 143-156 

By Sarah W. Ashe 

John Steele— Part II 159-177 

By Archibald Henderson 

Life and Services of Colonel Jonas Johnston 178-187 

By Kemp Davis Battle 

A Composition (1776) 188-192 

By John Graham 


Historical Commission 



(1) To collect, (2) to preserve, (3) to publish original sources 
of North Carolina History 

Your Co-operation Invited 

The Commission occupies the only modern, fireproof depository 
for historical records in North Carolina 


J. BRYAN GRIMES, Chairman__RALEiGH, N. C. 

W. J. PEELE Raleigh, N. O. 

T. M. PITTMAN Henderson, N. C. 

M. C. S, NOBLE Chapel Hill, N. O. 

D. H. HILL Raleigh, N. O. 

R. D. W. CONNOR Raleigh, N. C. 

Address all Communications to the Secretary 




WAY 2 I t97S 
JAN 1 7 1979