Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Surgery and pension statements

My two men leaned over the car like surgeons cutting away the cancerous ooze, cleaning the newly revealed copper wire and reattaching the shortened but completely functional connection.  The car roared into life. Victory at Campus! 

This brings to mind surgeries which are apparently all over my family this month. I console myself with prayer and with the knowledge that it's amazing what science can do and what a body can live through.  There are stories of medical miracles all over Lyman Draper's 1881 book King's Mountain and Its Heroes

Our Wilkes-Surry hero, Capt. Johnson survived King's Mountain after his bowels were blown away because he had not anything to eat for nearly three days before the battle.  He leaned on a tree for most of the battle hour shouting Huzzah, give them h..l ! and so on ...cheering the patriots on and he lived through it. A member of the Lincoln county men was also shot though the gut to the extent that when he healed he could draw a silk handkerchief through one side of himself and out the other. As you recall, Lenoir lost his hair which I consider an injury. An unfortunate Tory was found the next day sitting upright with his brains leaking from a bullet wound from both sides of his head, asleep and breathing. The Patriots gently laid him down, but at that moment, with that wound, he peacefully went on to the next life.  All of this is in the book and more as well.

Kings Mountain and Its Heroes is so old you can find it in Google Books and read it for yourself. I, however, prefer the hard copy. RG does too. Once he said he was called on to read the Bible in his Sunday School class and opened his book to discover he had mistakenly brought Draper's book to the Lord's Day celebration.  Well, it is almost a bible for my story of Kings Mountain.

However, Draper's book does not tell the entire story, believe it or not. In particular the New River patriots are not listed on the regular muster roles we have on record. When Col. Campbell of Virginia finally came to the meeting, he sent some of his men south to join Col. Cleveland and the rest went West with him to meet Sevier and Shelby.  The men who went south did not get listed.

Draper discusses the envoy sent to Campbell to implore him to join the effort. It took major convincing to get Campbell to leave his family in Virginia. He was first inclined to set up his defense near his home. The rider who was sent on one of the two requests to Campbell was Martin Gamble who later rode with Col. Cleveland.  

Gamble or Gambrill rode for miles across the NW counties of NC for 24 hours straight without too much rest and lost at least two horses to exhaustion.  He was helped along the way by Capt. Enoch Osborne.  We know this from the pension statements of New River patriots.  This is bigger than the ride of Paul Revere!!!  A poem has been written by a relative in the link.  

Importantly, to me is the fact that the ride occurred somewhere across NW NC: Watauga, Ashe, Allegheny,  so you guys in those counties must write the Park Service, establish a trail of the ride of Martin Gamble to connect to the OVNHT and then be part of the Heritage Area. 

 Pension statements are an excellent way to connect family history to written history. I believe the US gave pensions to injured veterans and later in the 1830s land grants to veterans and families who could prove service in the Revolution. As this proof came when veterans were way passed 85 or dead, some families had pensions rejected and some had pensions accepted. 

My son's paternal grandfathers line includes Capt. Samuel Martin of men called the South Fork Boys from the area of Gaston County and Lincoln County.  The South Fork area was originally home to the Catawba Indians and later to European descent whites who settled in the country already anti-English.  The link to the South Fork describes the white settlers and the description of the Scots-Irish specifically as "thrifty people who kept the Sabbath and anything else they could get their hands on"  I'm personally of so much English descent I don't know quite what to think, so I'm not really bragging about the Scots-Irish, but it surely explains a lot. I'm sure my son's father's relatives were the major reason Cornwallis was pestered out of the area of Charlotte. Fearless and Irish. 'nough said.

Samuel Martin lived to be 104 years old and despite all efforts and knowledge of his fighting, he somehow did not receive compensation even though his pension was accepted when he was 101. He was old - in his forties during the Rev. War - and an immigrant from Ireland. He must have been mighty tough. His group of 20 troops lost the greatest percentage of men in the heat of the King's Mountain battle. So they were in the thick of it.

It was recorded that his horsemanship as a cavalry man and athletic ability was so great he could leap over two horses to mount.  Here is a story from the link above that can't be missed...  Capt. Martin is serving with Colonel William Washington, a cousin of George Washington.

Soon after this service Captain Martin was ordered to proceed with his company to Rugeley's Mill, in Kershaw county, S.C. Here Colonel Rugeley, the Tory commander, had assembled a considerable force, and fortified his log barn and dwelling house. Colonel Washington, by order of General Morgan, had pursued him with his cavalry, but having no artillery, he resorted to, an ingenious stratagem to capture the post without sacrificing his own men. Accordingly he mounted a pine log fashioned as a cannon, elevated on its own limbs, and placed it in position to command the houses in which the Tories were lodged. Colonel Washington then made a formal demand for immediate surrender. Colonel Rugeley fearing the destructive consequences of the formidable cannon bearing upon his command in the log barn and dwelling house, after a stipulation as to terms, promptly surrendered his whole force, consisting of one hundred and twelve men, without a gun being fired on either side. It was upon the reception of the news of this surrender that Cornwallis wrote to Tarleton, "Rugeley will not be made a Brigadier."

Don't you think this is equally as cool as the Redcoat dolls in the movie "The Patriot"? And this really happened!

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