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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Collier to Thomas Burke
Collier, John
February 25, 1782
Volume 16, Pages 203-205

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Randolph County, 25th Feb., 1782.


My official duty obliges me to trouble your Excellency with a pretty minute detail of the circumstances of this unhappy County, and to apply to the Supreme Executive Power of the State for adequate protection to the officers of the County, both Civil and Military in the execution and enforcement of the Laws.

The County is still very much infested with a set of villains led by Fanning and one Walker, who, having rendered themselves desperate by the atrocity of their crimes, mounted upon the best of horses, well armed and harbored and secreted by many of the inhabitants

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upon the waters of Deep and Little Rivers, murder and rob with great impunity.

They have lately hanged two men in open day, besides shooting several others and burning some houses just before that.

A few days ago they surprised one of our County Captains, who was likewise one of the Collectors of the public Tax, at his own house, robbed him of his Horses, Arms, Tax list and all the money he had collected, and threatened him with instant death if ever they catched him again in the execution of his duty.

I know of no effectual method of extirpating these villains, but by a permanent post of Light Horse, as well mounted and armed as they, continually kept up in the midst of their ranges, who, by by closely pursuing and hunting the rogues and living upon their abettors or harborers, will oblige them in time, to find their real interest consists in joining against and giving up these pests of Civil Society.

The want of arms and ammunition is another circumstance which tends very much to dispirit and distress the well affected and to embolden the disaffected in this County.

When the British Army marched through this part of the Country the Tories and they together disarmed most of the good people of the County, and the Arms that were in the hands of the Tories were mostly carried to Wilmington or taken out of the County by the Light Horse of other Counties which came to our assistance, so that Randolph is in a very destitute situation in that respect.

I was informed that there was a large quantity, both of arms and ammunition in Salisbury, which induced me to apply to Colonel Lock, of Rowan County, for a small supply of these articles, but General Rutherford ordered him not to furnish me with any without an order from your Excellency. Should you find it proper to favor me with an order for about a hundred stand of Arms or any other quantity that can be conveniently spared, with a proportional quantity of ammunition, it would give great force and spirits to the good people of this County, and I shall take particular care to put them only in proper hands and to make the Captains who receive them responsible for them, agreeably to Law.

I hope your Excellency will pardon the length and minuteness of this letter as nothing but a deep sense of my duty and the distressed

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situation of this County could have induced me to trouble you with this detail.

I have the honor to be,
With the highest respect,
Your Excellency’s
Most Ob. and Most H’ble Servant,