Gary Strader/gStrader Photography

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Who Was Martha Bell?

In order to understand Martha Bell, and for that matter the people of northern Randolph County one must get a feeling for what they did in their daily lives.

Martha McFarland was born in 1735 in Alamance County, North Carolina. In 1759, Martha married Colonel John McGee, a  farmer and trader who came to North Carolina in 1750. John McGee ran a Trading Post called McGee's Ordinary in the Southeastern Corner of Guilford County near what is known as Climax North Carolina. John McGee and Martha had five children: Jane (1760-1835), Susannah (1761-1843), John (1763-1836), William (1768-1817) and Andrew McGee (d. 1819). 
John McGee died in 1773, but left his family well provided for. Martha carried on his business and farming, just as he had been doing.

When he wanted a supply of goods he took his produce to Petersburg in wagons; and with a little money in addition, he obtained his supplies. After loading his own wagons, he rode along with them on horseback, keeping with the wagons through the day, and lodging in some house at night.

Having learned from him the route and the names of all his lodging places on the road, Martha set off on her first trading expedition and found no difficulty either on her way or in making her purchases. But after leaving Petersburg, it began snowing early in the day, and and she decided to leave the wagons and get out of the snow as soon as possible.

For a whole day's journey, there was not a house of any description, and the only growth of timber was pine. The snow was whirling about in every direction, driving in her face and blinding her until she became completely lost. But having learned that the largest limbs of the pine tree grow on the south side, she used that as her guide, and arrived at her destination, where she rested for the night.

On May 6, 1779, Martha McGee married William Bell, who was also quite wealthy, and moved to his home on Deep River, in Randolph County, North Carolina, where he operated a mill and store. Bell was the first sheriff of Randolph County. There were no children from this marriage.

Martha was characterized as a "woman of strong mind, ardent temperament, and remarkably firm resolution." Martha was also a midwife, and often traveled about the countryside to attend the births of children and to care the sick. She was known to set out in the middle of the night at imes to go to a neighbors home to help with a birth dressed in her husbands' Militia Uniform coat, and armed with two pistols and a knife. 

Portions of the old Mill Dam Wall lay scattered in Deep River, and some are still intact behind the brige supports that crossed the river.

Close up view of the remains of the Mill Dam of Bells Mill.

She was a devoted Presbyterian Christian and an ardent Patriot during the Revolutionary War.

The area where the Bells lived was divided between Patriots and Tories (American colonists loyal to the British), and there was a great deal of violence on and off the battlefield. William Bell, was a Capitan in the North Carolina Militia, and the Quartermaster for General Greene's Army.

He was  a well-known business and political figure, had taken so active a part against the Tories.  that he knew if he fell into their hands they would take his life. Capt Bell was also the first officer of the new Rebel County of Randolph, the Sheriff, who's duty it was to keep the peace, and to preside over the Court. In fact that for the first few years Court was held at Capt. Bell's Home until a courthouse could be built in the first county seat of Johnstonville which was only three miles west of the Bell Plantation.

So, for those reasons it was too dangerous for Capt Bell to even sleep at home, he spent most nights encamped away from home, lest he be found by the Tories that carried on nightly raids to homes all over the county. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

After The Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Chapter Two

So Then Cornwallis having made his way south down into the newly formed county of Randolph, having sent his baggage wagons ahead, arrives at Bell's Mill. 
Taken from: Revolutionary incidents and sketches of
character chiefly in the "Old North State" : volumes 1 and
2  Stmnt.Resp.:  by E. W. Caruthers ; typed and indexed
by Ruth F. Thompson.  Authors:  Caruthers, Eli W ,
1799-1865 (Main Author)  Thompson, Ruth F (Added
General Gray, of the NC Militia writs in a letter to Caruthers about most of what was known of the Whigs of Randolph County, and of the Bells, and most of the information in which I am giving you. He was quite old at the time that he wrote the letter, but he was personally acquainted  with the Bells, and with the Whigs of Randolph having fought along side of them in the war.

General Gray writes: 

“I removed to
Randolph Court House in the Spring of 1792, in the
immediate vicinity of which Mrs. Bell, and the most of the
Whigs of that county who had taken part in the war,
resided; and from them I re­ceived all the information I
am able to give you. Those who lived in the south and
eastern parts of the county were mostly Tories, under the
control of Colonel Fanning, or remained neutral from fear
of him. Mr. Bell and his lady were both true friends to the
cause of their country, and treated those who were
en­gaged in its defense with the greatest kindness,
friendship and hospitality."

So then, you get a sense of the divisions of the people who lived here at the time of the battle. You had the Whigs, who were for Independence from England, patriots all who fought as citizen soldiers. You had religious groups who were opposed to war, like the Quakers, among others. You had the Tories, (loyalists), who were as opposed to Independence, as the Whigs were to British rule.

After the Guilford battle, when the British army was on its
way to Wilmington, it encamped, for about two days, at
and near her house. Her house stood on the north side of
the river, and the van of the army arrived there, it is said,
about the middle of the afternoon, the main body remaining
at John Clarke’s, who lived on the adjoining plantation

Lord Cornwallis, according to his custom, took
possession of her house, but he had been well informed in
regard to her character, and treated her with much

During this time, as might be expected, a number
of little incidents occurred, which are perhaps worth
re­cording; and we cannot do otherwise than feel some
curiosity to know how his lordship would treat a lady of her
standing, of whose house he had taken possession, without
leave or license, and whose courage and firmness were at
least equal to his own; but only a few items, of a reliable
kind, have been preserved.

Here we will take General
Gray’s account of the manner in which Cornwallis introduced
himself; and for this purpose, we give from the letter
already quoted, the following extract, which accords
substantially with the statements of others in that
The remains of this historic area is now under the waters of the Randleman Dam. This was the road that passed by the old mill, and the home of Martha and Capt William Bell.

“A few days after the battle of Guilford Court House, Cornwallis and his army arrived at Bell’s mill, where his lordship called upon the old lady, and inquired of her where her husband was, to which she re­plied, ‘In Greene's camp.’“‘Is he an officer or a soldier in the army?’“

‘He is not; but thought it better to go to his friends, than to stay and fall into the hands of his enemies.’
“‘Madam, I must make your house my headquarters, and have the use of your mill for a few days, to grind for my army while I remain here.

“Sir, you posses the power, and, of course, will do as you please without my consent; but, after using our mill, do you intend to burn it before you leave?"
‘Madam, why do you ask that question?
“‘Sir, answer my question first, and then I will answer yours in a short time.’
‘His lordship then assured her that the mill should not be burnt or injured; but that he must use it to prepare provisions for his army, and further added, “that by making her house his head-quarters, he would be a protection to herself, her house, and every thing that was in or about it; for,’ said he, ‘no soldier of mine will dare to plunder, or commit depredations near my quarters.’

“To which she replied: ‘Now, sir, you have done me a favor by giving me a satisfactory answer to my question, and I will answer yours. Had your lordship said that you intended to burn our mill, I had in­tended to save you the trouble by burning it myself before you derived much benefit from it; but as you as­sure me that the mill shall not be burned, and that you will be a protection to me, and to the property about the house, I will make no further objections to your using our mill, and making my house your head­quarters while you stay, which, I think you said, would be only for a few days.’’
These preliminaries being settled and strictly adhered to, by both parties, occasioned his lordship and Mrs. Bell to part on better terms than they met.
Lord Cornwallis could not be more zealous in the service of King George and his monarchical government, than Mrs. Bell was in the cause of freedom and Independence; nor could he remain there for two days, with his army, without occasioning a number of sad or amusing incidents. 

A few years ago, two or three aged men, who still recollected the scenes of the revolution, and who, from having lived all the time in her neighbor­hood, had been well acquainted with Mrs. Bell from the time she took that name until her death, related to me several additional facts, all of which were about as illustrative of her character as the above,and some of which were, on other accounts, even more interesting and important to the patriot or the historian.
Soon after entering the house, he told Mrs. Bell that he had annihilated Greene’s army, and he could never do him any more harm, but this was mere bravado, as he virtually admitted in the course of a few min­utes. It was about the vernal equinox, and the day being cold and blustering, the back or north door, which opened on the road leading from Martinsville to Fayetteville, was kept shut on account of the wind.

His lordship soon opened the back door and stood in it for some minutes, looking up the road, and then re­turned to his seat leaving it open. She went and shut it, but, after a few minutes, he opened it again and did as before.

He was evidently in trouble and restless, for he could not remain, for five minutes at a time, in the same position;for he was sometimes sitting, sometimes walking across the floor, and appeared to be in a deep study. 

After shutting the door again he told her that he wanted that door to stand open, and, when she asked him for the reason, he said he didn’t know but General Greene might be coming down the road. Why, sir,’ said she, “I thought you told me a little while ago that you had annihilated his army, and that he could do you no more harm.’

On this, his lordship heaved a sigh and replied: “Well, madam, to tell you the truth, I never saw such fighting since God made me, and another such victory would annihilate me.” If a few hundred Whigs, at that juncture, had promptly and resolutely offered their services to Gener­al Greene, as would be done now in a similar case, so that he could have attacked the enemy again with suf­ficient numbers, there can be no doubt that the whole army would have surrendered with very little resist­ance, and an almost bloodless victory would have been gained.For it is well known, or has been all along believed, that their ammunition was becoming scarce,that their money chest was getting low, and they were encumbered with a great many wounded officers and men.
It was very annoying to Mrs. Bell to have such haughty and profane men in her house and such a rude soldiery round about it; but the presence of Lord Cornwallis protected her from any gross insult, and, in fact, none of them seemed disposed to treat her with as much rudeness even as they had treated Mrs. Caldwell and some others only a week before; for they were much mortified by the results of the last conflict and were more occupied with thoughts about their own safety than any thing else.

They took her grain,cat­tle, provisions, and whatever else they wanted, so far as I have learned, without compensation, and without any care for the distress it might occasion her family.

Cornwallis treated her with courtesy and, no doubt, tried to prevent any unnecessary depredations on her property; but he could not be everywhere, and soldiers are not apt to inform on each other. She could sometimes hear the soldiers and subaltern officers at a distance cursing her for a rebel and uttering their denunciations; but all this she could bear in view of the certain and glorious triumph which she anticipa­ted. 

Confident of ultimate success, she could neither be bribed nor frightened into an abandonment of her principles; and if her life had been at stake, she would have maintained her dignity and her firmness to the last.

As one of the men was riding, at a rapid gait by the door in which she was standing for the purpose of watering his horse in the river, he uttered some profane or insulting language; and she said she did wish the horse would throw him and break his neck. In two or three minutes she had her wish, for as he was reck­lessly dashing down the hill to the river, the horse stumbled and fell, which threw the rider over his neck, head foremost on some rocks, and he was killed on the spot.

The pipe protrudes from what was the root cellar of the plantation home of Martha and Capt. Bell.

This is the rock outcropping where the British Redcoat fell to his death from his horse, right below the front of the Bell house that faced Muddy Creek.
Having been duly apprised of their coming, and being well aware of their rapacity and recklessness, she had taken what measures she could to secure such articles as she deemed of most value and could not remove to any great distance, particularly her cash and her bacon. 

The latter of which articles she had taken over the river and hid among some rocks where it was supposed no body would ever think of looking, or could find it without a guide. The money she hid under a large rock about the house. 

This was all in specie—mostly In guineas and half Jos, and this being of more value than any thing else that they would be likely to get, was the object of her greatest solicitude. This she had hid under a large rock which formed the bottom step to the door. 

The rock was so large that she could just pry up one side of it; and, having made a small hole in the ground in which she deposited her treasure, she let the rock down again in its former position. Then she did not expect that the army or any portion of it would be so near to the house; but to her great sur­prise they were all the time passing over it.

It had been for some time a common expedient with the people over the country, especially with the Whigs, to hide their treasure under rocks or to bury it in the ground, and, as she was well aware the British had not only learned this fact from the Tories, but how to search for it. By some means or other, accident or design,the rock would probably be removed; and then all her cash, the earnings of a laborious practice for years, would not only be lost to her, but would go to feed and clothe her mortal enemies.

By a woman of her spirit, this could not be borne with patience; and she was resolved that it should not be lost without an effort to place it out of danger. For this purpose, she went deliberately into the camp, under the pretext of making some request, or of lodging a complaint for misdemeanors on the part of the soldiers; and, having transacted that matter, whatever it was, she walked about in a careless manner, as if to gratify an idle curiosity, in looking at the tents, until they all became engaged in some other way, and their attention was turned to something else. Then, going up to the place, she raised a side of the rock, took out her money, and returned into the house, without attracting their notice, or exciting the least suspicion.
The above was from General Gray's letter describing in detail the visit of Cornwallis to Bell's Mill, and about the manner and character of Martha Mcfarlane McGee Bell. General Gray had much more to say about the Bells, and about events of the Revolution as it applied on a local level. These will be discussed in the next Blog entry. For now, I think I should mention that reading of this account only made mr hungry for more about this event.
I found it curious that such an important encounter should be marked somewhere on the landscape. There should be a state historic marker, or something marking where this happened. To my surprise there was no such marker, or nothing really around that showed the location where it happened. I spent over ten years talking to old timers and inquiring if they knew where this might have happened, and where was Bells Mill. I got at best only very sketchy possible locations, but usually they would say, only that it happened down on the river.
It was later in my research that I read some old pension statements from soldiers from the war that gave very detailed accounts of their actions in the war to collect their pension. Often in the accounts they gave names of who they were with and where they were, and what they did. One such account gave me a location. 
I should go there and search, about a mile from what was the first county seat. That place was called Johnstonville, and it was a town that was  no longer a real town, but just a empty pasture, with a TV station tower located on the property of WGHP Television. I went there and followed the modern road right by the location. I was in luck for that road must have been only a paved over wagon road from Revolutionary war times. The distance given in the account led me right to where Bells Mill, and Plantation was.
I had been on this road many times, and I always has my suspicions that it was indeed the place. I found an odd old white country store building so old in fact it was fallen in. In those earlier days it sit right on top of the road, only perhaps a foot or two off the roadway proper. I thought it strange that a building would be allowed to be so close to the road. It turns out that it was an old store that at one time was actually a part of the operation of the mill, and set on part of the old foundation of the mill.
Many years went by from the first time that I happened to suspect that this was the location of Bells Mill. I never investigated the location because the land was clearly marked "Posted" "No Trespassing"  signs abound everywhere. I waited until the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority  began to clear the land for the lake that would one day be here.
There it was, just off the road, just as I suspected, the remains of Bells Mill.
North Wall of Bells Mill.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

So What Happened after Guilford Courthouse?

 So What Happened after Guilford Courthouse?

This is the part that most historians have let go by the wayside. Yet I think it is the part that best describes the sacrifice and determination of the patriot cause.

Right after the battle was fought, Greene retreated in order to preserve his army, and the losses. He went northward toward Virginia, encamping at Ninety-Six where he rearmed, and re supplied, then moved north to Virginia.

Cornwallis did go to Virginia as well, but it took him some time to get there. He first went to the Quaker Settlement known then as New Garden, just down the road from the battlefield, he left the most direly wounded in the care of the Quakers to care for them, and made his way down south following The Deep River. It was said that the injured that were able to travel straggled along behind making their way as best they were able, but that some of them did not make it to the next encampment in Randolph County at Bell's Mill. There were dead, and dying strewn all along the way.Lord Cornwallis actually had planned to encamp here even before the battle was fought, and had sent the baggage wagons carrying his personal effects, and those effects of his officers ahead with an armed detachment.

I need to state here that this information I gleaned from a lot of sources.  Most is taken from: Revolutionary incidents and sketches of character chiefly in the "Old North State" : volumes 1 and 2  Statement.Resp.:  by E. W. Caruthers ; typed and indexed
by Ruth F. Thompson.  Authors:  Caruthers, Eli W  Caruthers 1799-1865 (Main Author)  Thompson, Ruth F (Added Author)

Other sources came from Rev War Pension Records Statements from those who had served, or from their survivors. Additional material gathered from The Randolph Room of the Asheboro Public Library, and from the Book of Jennifer Welborn," Martha  McFarlane McGee Bell, The Case for Caruthers. Her book was her mission statement to cement the honor and place in history for Matha Mc Farlane McGee Bell, of whom Jennifer is a direct descendant.

I had several interviews with Jennifer about Martha, and together we applied for Registry for the grave yard containing Martha McGee Bell, and the remains of her husband in an unmarked grave, along with those of Thomas Dougan, Rev War Soldier, and his parents, and children. Though we were unsuccessful in doing so, we feel that we generated enough interest in the graveyards preservation that it will remain undisturbed at least for a long while we hope.

It is here that I will begin to transition from the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and cover not only what happened in the days after the battle, but I will endeavor to introduce you to the main characters  those people who fought in the Battle, and were true heroes of the Revolution in every way. People who went on to develop their homeland, and make it the great nation that it would eventually become. I hold these people as my true life heroes, I have the utmost respect for them. I have walked in the dirt where they walked, and I have wiped the dirt off their tombstones. I even stood by them and made a promise that I would do all that I could possibly do to preserve their memory, and tell their story so that their efforts would not be forgotten.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Why Did Corwallis Fare So Badly At Guilford Courthouse?

Why did Cornwallis fare so badly at Guilford Courthouse?
For the answer you must look to the facts:

His professional soldiers were for the first time, outnumbered. Granted the force were not for the most part well trained, or as well equipped, but they were to be reckoned with in any event. This army of Cornwallis was tired, and hungry, and wanted to go home.

For an in depth look, one must get perspective into the life and times of those people that lived in the colonial south. In North Carolina there were for the most part people who were either farmers, or people who lived in coastal communities that fished, or supported the sea trade with England.

Further inland, you were a farmer, or you were probably a shop keeper in towns like Greensboro, or Hillsboro; or you belonged to a religious sect like the Quakers, or Moravian s.

Moravian Woman, carries baked goods from the bakery at Old Salem.

The Moravian s settled in Forsyth County around the villages of Salem, and Bathabara. The Quakers, were more numerous, and were prevalent in and around Greensboro;and newly formed Randolph County at the time of the Battle.

Salem Square Old Salem

Both sects, were considered to be neutral in the War, but if you look deeper, the fact is they settled here so that they might be able to worship in peace. That peaceful living arrangement might come to an end if the Crown were successful in restoring order in the colonies.

One example of this might be that of William Millikan, who was a Quaker that lived in Northern Randolph County. There were several Quaker settlements in Northern Randolph County, notably Centre Friends near the Guilford /Randolph Border, Springfield Friends west just south of what would be High Point,  Providence Friends to the Southeast in Randolph County.
William Millikan, would not take part in any warfare with the British, but he just happened to be elected as an officer of the newly formed government of Randolph County. He was the County's first tax collector. Those tax funds, in the short term were going to help supply the militia.

Because of this,William Millikan was a target for elimination, and after the Battle of Guilford Court House, his farm was raided by Tory David Fanning, who was an officer in the British Army.More about David Fanning later, but I wanted to mention this because such a relationship must have figured into the problems of  Cornwallis in this part of North Carolina.

So there were basically  three groups that played into the War at the time of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. The Patriots (Whigs) who lived here, the Loyalists,(Tory s), and The  Quakers who were opposed to War as a matter of religious principal. If you lived here you were in one of the three camps, and you had to make a choice on where you stood.

What were his problems you might ask? It is a fairly simple case to be made here. The problems Cornwallis had were that the was on a long sustained drive into a land that he was unfamiliar with, and that being the case could not count on resupply from England. Even getting to the coast was no simple task, as there were few roads leading to Wilmington, or any other coastal town in order to be resupplied.

To move food and the other necessary items for a Two Thousand Man force through a hostile country with few roads would mean that you would have to have a sizable force to maintain the coming and going of supply wagons, that had to traverse rough terrain.

Old Mill of Guilford, where Cornwallis came to grind corn meal for the troops before the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

To add to this crippling problem, was that his men, were weary from such a long absence from their homes. The war had been going on for many years, and they had been forced to live in the open, exposed to the elements in an untamed land for much of that time.

From reading the dairy of Cornwallis, he was counting on the support of Loyalists that lived in the colonies. While he did receive assistance from the loyalist population, it was more or less in the form of armed raiding parties. Very little in the way of food, and other material assistance, and it was re-supply that Cornwallis needed most.

So then Cornwallis on the move, with little supplies , found it necessary to forage to feed the army. To forage it meant that he could not move as fast as he would have liked. It meant he would have to procure needed rations from the populace.
Plaque at the Old Mill of Guilford, marking it's part in history.

  Cornwallis sent out raiding "foraging parties", to the various farms, and plantations scattered about. The drawback is that no one farm would have enough grain, and food stuffs to feed such a large force. That being the case, it was a constant struggle finding food.  There is plenty of evidence that Cornwallis had to do this, often encamping for two to three days time while gathering provisions.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse: The Beginning of the End

On March 1, 1781
Maj. General Nathanael Greene's army came back across the Dan River into North Carolina. After two weeks of maneuvering, Greene led his army to Guilford Courthouse and prepared for battle. On March 15, 1781, British Lt. General Charles Cornwallis marched to meet Greene for the confrontation that he desired. The battle began with a skirmish of advance guard led by Lt. Colonel Henry Lee. Lee withdrew and the British advanced the final three miles to Guilford Courthouse.

General Greene had divided his force of roughly 4,400 men into three lines. The first two lines were made up of militia from North Carolina (1st line) and Virginia (2nd line), most of whom were untrained and inexperienced. The first line's left flank was supported by Lt. Colonel Lee's Legion and Colonel William Campbell's Riflemen. The right flank was supported by Lt. Colonel William Washington's calvary and Colonel Charles Lynch's Riflemen. Greene's third line was made up of Continental regulars. General Cornwallis led 2,000 veteran British troops.

The British attacked and, although suffering many casualties, were able to break the center of the first line relatively quickly, although the right and left sides of the line held battle a bit longer. The second line inflicted more casualties upon the British, but these militia also withdrew to the rear under the pressure of the battle-hardened British forces. The British now attempted to engage the third and final American line, but their advance was slowed in the center by the rough terrain between the second and third lines. Meanwhile, the right and left portions of the American line engaged the British advance. The left side of the line repelled the British here, while the right side, with the support of a cavalry charge by Lt. Colonel Washington, decimated the British forces that it engaged.

At this point, the British artillery had finally made its way through the rough terrain and were in position to attack the American line. General Greene considered the fact that he had suffered few casualties up to this point, while having inflicted extensive casualties on the British. He decided that one final equally balanced attack by his remaining line would benefit the British more than he. He thus chose to withdraw from the field of battle allowing his adversary to claim victory, but with his own forces still fully capable to engage in immediate action.

The keys to General Greene's success over the actual winner Cornwallis in this Battle were as follows:

 1. General Greene used the untrained NC Militia to first soften up the highly trained soldiers of  Cornwallis's Army. 

It has been said that the NC Militia were cowards and would not hold their ranks. While it is true in that the main line of the Militia did not hold their ground there were good reasons for this.

First The type warfare the Armies of Europe conducted was to form ranks, and the first line would fire, then kneel down to reload, while the second line stepped forward to fire, with the third line right behind. When this second line fired their weapon, they in turn would kneel to reload, while the third, and first line stepped forward.

This would continue until the opposing sides closed to a few yards, at which time the three ranks would discharge their weapons, and go in a running charge with bayonets affixed to their muskets. 

The Militia had no such formal training, and had no bayonets. They usually fought with their own weapons that they brought from home. It would be suicide to engage a well trained, and well armed army to fight in the way they were accustomed to.

The militia were more inclined to ambush the Brits from behind hedgerows, and trees, from the woods. Hit hard, hit fast, and run away, was their style, and General Greene used their style to help to win this battle.

By using the Militia first, the VA militia next, and the Continental Army, who were professional soldiers last, they were assured victory by using the land and surprise.

 2. Because Greene did this, it forced Cornwallis's Army to be surprised by the Regular Army waiting for them , guns blazing as they came to the last clearing before the woods.

Greene's Regulars were well trained and fresh, and had been waiting, as Cornwallis's troops had been  fighting for some time, and had been chasing the militia who were  leading them into the trap.

3.Another factor that figured into the fight was that Cornwallis's Troops had been basically relying on Loyalists to keep them supplied with food, and supplies, as well as by raiding the local farmers farm stores of meat, and grain. It was reported that his troops had not had anything to eat for three days prior to the Battle. Everyone knows a Army marches on it's stomach.

In fact, it was that Cornwallis could not sustain and press the fight for sustained periods because of a lack of supply, that had much to do with his ultimate defeat. He and his army must have just been weary from battle, and from hunger, wanting to go home.

The Battle of Guilford Courthouse only took about 90 minutes to fight; however it was what went on after the Battle that really caught my attention. The days, weeks, months, and even years after; deeply affected the people of this part of North Carolina.

In my next installment, I will go into detail of what went on. Events of which you will not know about, unless you are a student of this history. You do not know the drama that unfolded. 

To me it was what happened after the epic battle that made the biggest impression on me.

I will go into much greater detail, and I will introduce you to actual people who played a part of history. It is these people  are to me the real heroes. For the most part these people are for the most part lost to history.

I will tell you about the place in which they lived, and about my efforts to save something of their past for future generations. I will share with you what went on when I tried to save this legacy. It is my hope that when I am finished that you too will have the same respect for them that I have for them. I also hope that it will inspire you to delve deeply into the history of where you live, so that you too might know the background from which you came, and get direction for where we are going.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Remembering The Past, to Move Forward

Growing up in North Carolina, we are gifted to live in a place that was around from the beginning of this great nation. We too have taken part in making the nation what it is.

Just as my earlier posts have shown, the earliest times of our nation, was shaped in large part by the people who have settled it. The Swiss,came to New Bern and settled it, the French Huguenots came and settled Bath, English settlers came south from Jamestown colony, along with Scottish, and Irish immigrants. Yes, North Carolina, as the nation was becoming a melting pot of people and ideas.

The main idea was to live in freedom, to worship, as they pleased without some King, or ruler interfering. The idea and expectation was that they might be able to make a living off the land, to grow crops to feed their families, and have enough left over to sell to make a little money for the things they could not make on their own.

The Royal Governor William Tryon had enacted aggressive taxes to pay for his lavish mansion in New Bern. He was the symbol of the rule of the Crown in the American Colony, and therefore his home should reflect his status.

When the tax collectors levied their taxes by forcing the farmers to buy Tax Stamps on their crops, the people revolted as the Governor was taking the lion's share of what they had worked hard for, in some cases they did not keep even enough to feed their families through the winter. What did Tryon's house look like? Some said that it look more like a Palace than a home.

The Mob gave themselves a name they were called "Regulators", and they had determined to fight rather than submit to unjust and illegal taxation in their eyes. 
For a thorough read on the Battle at Alamance, I recommend reading up on the War of the Regulators  The War of the Regulation.

Marker in Hillsborough where Tryon had Six of the Ringleaders hanged.
Hillsborough Courthouse

The thing to remember about this rebellion is that it was but the beginning of unsettling events that would lead to the War in just five more years. The same people who fought at Alamance, were some of the same farmers who would become known as Minutemen, citizen soldiers, joining the Militia in North Carolina to expel Cornwallis on his Southern Campaign. They would also do battle with the many Tories that lived here, loyal to the King.