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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Deposition of Joseph Graham concerning his service in the Continental Army
Graham, Joseph, 1759-1836
October 30, 1832
Volume 19, Pages 956-964

[In order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th, 1832.]

On this 30th day of October, personally appeared in open Court before the Court of pleas and Quarter Sessions for the County of Lincoln, in North Carolina, now sitting, Gen. Joseph Graham, a resident of said County and State, aged seventy-three years, who first being duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the Act of Congress passed June 7th 1832.

That he enlisted in the army of the United States early in the month of May, 1778 and served in the 4th regiment of the North Carolina line under Col. Archibald Lytle, in Capt. Gooden’s company a part of the time, and the balance as Quarter Master Sergeant. The terms of the enlistment were to serve nine months after arriving at the place of rendezvous, which was stated to be at Bladensburgh in the State of Maryland.

These troops assembled in Charlotte, Mecklenburg Co., where he then lived and by slow movements marched on to near the Virginia line detaining by the way for the recruits from the other counties

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to join. The field officers on this march were Col. Wm. L. Davidson, Maj. Wm. Polk, and Henry Dickson, (commonly called Hal. Dickson,) Capt. Smith Harris and others. When all assembled, encamped in Caswell County at a place called Moon’s Creek. At this place received intelligence of the battle of Monmouth, and that the British were gone to New York—that our services were not wanted in the North, and after some delay the men became uneasy: their terms of service had not yet commenced, and they were uncertain when it would; a mutiny took place, which was suppressed with some difficulty; some officers broke their swords and some of the soldiers were crippled.

It was afterwards proposed to such of the soldiers as would, to take furloughs until the fall, that their term of service should then commence. Most of those from the upper counties took furloughs, of whom the deponent was one, and he returned home to Mecklenburg where he then resided, about three months after he had left, say some time in August, in the year 1778. He was again called into service and marched from Charlotte on the 5th day of November following, under command of Gen. Rutherford with his brigade of five months militia men, (Col. Lytle commanded the regulars) to the 10 mile house, above Charleston, where he drew arms and camp equipage, from thence to Purysburg on Savannah river, where Gen. Lincoln commanded, and the regulars from North Carolina were organized in two regiments under Cols. Lytle and Armstrong; the brigade under Brigadier-General Sumner, and this deponent was in company under Capt. Gooden; which company and one commanded by Capt. Wm. Goodman, were shortly after transferred to a regiment of Light Infantry, which after Gen. Ashe was defeated at Briar Creek, was augmented by some companies of militia and placed under command of Col. Malmedy, (a Frenchman), and Major John Nelson of the North Carolina line. From the time the regiment of Infantry was formed this deponent acted as Quarter Master Sergeant to the end of the campaign. Lieut. Hilton (of the regulars) who was appointed Quarter Master, being in bad health and dying about the last of the year, this deponent discharged the whole duty most of the time. During this service he was in a skirmish with McGirt who commanded the British cavalry before Tarleton’s arrival. Said regiment of Light Infantry was twice detached under

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the command of Count Pulaski, in one of which services, a Lt. Chevalier Devallile, (a Frenchman) in a rencontre with a British picquet, received a mortal wound; he was in the battle of Stono, on the 20th day of June, 1779, was discharged near Dorchester, S. C., he thinks by Col. Archibald Lytle, some time about the beginning of August, 1779: said discharge and many others relating to that service, were given up to the Board of Commissioners who sat at Warrenton in the year 1786, for the adjustment of the claims of the North Carolina line.

Was taken with bilious fever a few days before the term of service was up, and had much difficulty, but by the assistance of a friend after some time got home; and was not fully recovered at the end of two months. The terms on which this service was performed were to be exempted from military duties for three years after. His spirits were so depressed by the fever and recollection of the hardships of a southern campaign in the summer, along the seaboard, he was disposed to avail himself of the privilege allowed him by the law, until about the latter end of May, when Col. Buford was defeated and it was announced that the enemy were within 35 or 40 Miles, when the Militia were ordered out en masse. This deponent joined them and from the experience he had in military duties was appointed adjutant to the Mecklenburgh regiment. From that county being a frontier and no other force to protect it, a part of said regiment, and sometimes all, were kept in the service most of the summer, and this deponent with them. The foot under Gen. W. L. Davidson, encamped south-east of Charlotte, and the horse under Col. Davie, were patrolling the country as far as Waxhaw and the adjoining counties in the west, which were disaffected. On the 25th of September heard that the whole British army were on the march from Camden. Gen’l Davidson immediately decamped, marched towards Salisbury and ordered this deponent to Charlette to join Col. Davie, and take command of such of the inhabitants as should collect there on the news of the approach of the enemy—50 odd collected. In the disposition, Col. Davie made resistance as the enemy entered the village, this deponent commanded the reserve and sustained the retreat by molesting the advance of the enemy for four miles against their whole cavalry and a battalion of infantry which followed; at last they charged, when Col. Davie was

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not in supporting distance, and this deponent received nine wounds, (the scars of which this court testify are visible at this time,) that he was left on the ground and afterwards taken to the Hospital, and it was upwards of two months before his wounds were healed; that after he recovered the enemy were said to be in Winnsborough, S. C. The term of the Militia who had been in service under Gen. Davidson and Col. Davie had then expired.

Gen. Davidson, some time in the month of December, stated to this deponent, that it was the opinion of Gen. Greene the enemy would again advance in North Carolina as soon as reinforcement and some stores on the way from Charleston should arrive: and that a call must be made for another draft. He wanted a part cavalry, and as Col. Davie was now Commissary General with Gen. Greene, he did not expect him to furnish it. If this deponent would raise a company or more, he should be entitled to such rank as the numbers would justify; that as an encouragement each man would find his own horse and equipments and serve at that time for six weeks, it should stand in place of a tour of duty of three months, the time required by law.

This deponent, therefore set out among the youth of his acquaintance and in two or three weeks had upwards of fifty. The principal difficulty was to procure arms—they generally had rifles—carried the muzzle in a small boot fixed to a strap fastened beside the right stirrup leather, and the butt ran through their shot-bag belt, so that the lock came directly under the right arm; near half the swords were made by blacksmiths of the country. Those who had a pistol, had it swung by a strap the size of a bridle rein on the left side over the sword, which was hung higher than the modern way of wearing them, so as not to entangle their legs when acting on foot. Their equipments were not splendid, they were the best that could be procured at that time, and in the hands of the men who used them, ultimately as serviceable as arms that looked much finer; they had at all times all their arms with them, whether on foot or on horse-back, and could move individually or collectively, as circumstances might require, without depending on commissary, quarter master, or other staff.

After Tarleton’s defeat on the 17th January, 1781, the enemy in pursuit of Gen. Morgan came to Cowan’s Ford on the Catawba, on

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the 1st day of February. This deponent had two of his company killed opposing their passage, and his was the only company that went off the battle ground in order and covered the retreat, at the same time our Gen. Davidson fell. On the 7th of February, this deponent’s company hanging on the rear of the British on their march from Shallow Ford on the Yadkin, to Salem, routed a small party, killed one, and took five prisoners, (regulars). After this the North Carolina militia were placed under the command of Gen. Andrew Pickens, of S. C., and this deponent’s company, with others under Col. Joseph Dickson, passed on over Haw river; was dispatched by Gen. Pickens, in the evening, with part of his company and some riflemen from Rowan, forty-five in number, marched in the night of the 17th—at light next morning, surprised and killed or took prisoners a guard of an officer and twenty-six men, at Hart’s mills, one and a half miles from Hillsborough where the British army then lay—the evening of the same day formed a junction with Col. Lee’s legion, a day or two after this Tarleton, with his legion set out over Haw river to join Col. or Doctor Piles and Pickens, and Lee after him. This deponent’s company and all the militia equipped as dragoons, were placed under Lee in rear of his dragoons. On falling in with Piles and the Tories, instead of Tarleton, Lee passed along the front of their line in a parallel direction. Although he knew their character his men, who had recently come to the South, did not; but when the militia came near and discovered the strip of red cloth each man had on his hat, they made the first attack on the tories; some of our blacksmith’s swords were broken, others bent, &c. Tarleton who was then in the vicinity, as soon as informed of the result, set off for Hillsborough. We pursued about half way and not overtaking, turned to the left up the country. The next day, he having got a reinforcement, came after us and attacked our picquet guard in the night, in the firing killed Major Micajah Lewis a continental officer, and compelled us to move; after various movements and both armies having got to the South of Haw river near Alamance Creek, on the 2d of March a detachment of about 600, all militia except Lee’s legion, advanced in three columns under his command. This deponent and company in front of the left with orders to support the left flank; after passing through a farm, near Clap’s mill, and entering a coppice of woods encountered a large body of the enemy
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drawn up in position—a smart firing commenced, and after three or four rounds our line gave way; the ground was so hampered with thick underbrush, and the tories passing us on the left flank, the retreat was effected with difficulty—retreated about one mile to the Ford on Big Alamance, where Col. Otho Williams, the regulars under his comand and Washington’s cavalry, were drawn up to support us; the enemy did not pursue more than five hundred yards; in the affair two were killed, three wounded, and two taken prisoners of this deponent’s company, seven in all. On the 1st of March the term of service for which the men were engaged was up, and about 2-3 of them would go home; the others were persuaded to stay longer being daily in expectation of a general action.

The day after the battle at Clap’s Mill, Col. Lee ordered this deponent to take 25 men and go to where the battle was and see if the enemy were there, if gone take the trail, credit no report of the inhabitants, but proceed untill we actually saw the British troops. At the battle ground found the British had gone after burying their own dead and leaving ours; took the trail, in the evening came in view of their sentries on the Salisbury road, within one half a mile of their head quarters, and directly dispatched a Sergeant and six of the party to inform Lee—the rest of our party moved after dark through the woods with a view of taking two sentries we had seen in the evening. In this we failed, but after they had fired at us we went briskly up the main road. In a half a mile met a patrole of their cavalry, about equal to our number, after hailing, briskly discharged a volley in their faces, they retreated and took to the woods; we took their officer prisoner, the rest escaped. We turned out of the road in the obscure path, in a half a mile halted to take some refreshments. On this great road opposite to us a quarter of a mile distant, heard a scattering fire and a considerable noise which lasted for some time. Two days after we learned from a deserter, that on report of the sentries in the evening, the patrole was sent up the road after us and were returning when we met and dispersed them. When they came into camp from different directions upwards of one hundred cavalry was sent up the road after us, and at 11 o’clock at night met a company of tories coming in to join them; not doubting that it was the party which had defeated their picquet, they instantly

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charged them and considerable slaughter was made before it was discovered they were friends. Those small affairs did more to suppress toryism to the South than anything that had before occurred. A few days before at Piles’ defeat, they had been cut up by Lee’s men and ours, when they thought it was their friend Tarleton, in the present case they were cut up by the British when they thought it was the Americans. It is not known that any of them joined the British afterwards.

This deponent and company some days after was in the action at Whitsell’s Mill, on Reedy Fork, under command of Colonel Washington, when Col. Webster with the elite of the British army, for twelve miles pressed us so closely as to compel Col. Otho Williams, the commander, to fight at this place. The men whom I had persuaded thus long to remain for a general action, being disappointed, and having nothing but heavy skirmishing in which they still had to act a prominent part, determined to go home: which being represented to Gen. Greene he ordered this deponent to go with them and keep them in a compact body until they got through the disaffected settlements on the east side of the Yadkin river. We passed that river on the 14th of March, 1781, and on the 17th most of the company got home. Altho’ the company were engaged to serve only six weeks about two-thirds of them served upwards of two months. From the time I undertook to raise the company until I returned home, about three months. Owing to the early death of Gen. Davidson under whose orders I acted, I had no written commission, but Col. Dickson under whom I was afterwards placed gave a written discharge some time after. In this service was in eight battles or skirmishes, and lost nine men by the enemy, viz: four killed, three wounded, two prisoners.

After the battle at Guilford the enemy marched to Wilmington and left a garrison there, but no military services were called for in the West until the month of August, 1781, tho’ the tories under the protection of the British had possession of the country South of Cape Fear up to and above Fayetteville. And Col. Fanning of the tories, surprised Hillsboro’ and took Gov. Burke prisoner. Gen. Rutherford, who had been captured at Gates’ defeat, and with other distinguished citizens confined for twelve months in the castle of St. Augustine, had been exchanged and returned about this time.

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He sent this deponent orders to raise a trop of dragoons in Mecklenburgh. Many of those who had served the preceding winter joined it. There were but four married men in the troop. Our head quarters were near Pedee. Deponent did not receive the commission herewith sent until several days after the organization. His reason for applying for it was, that on former occasions officers who had acted under verbal appointments and had been taken prisoners had not been respected as officers but treated as common soldiers. When all the drafts were assembled a legionary corps was formed under the command of Col. R. Smith who had been a Captain in the North Carolina line; it consisted of three troops of dragoons, about ninety-six troopers, and two hundred mounted infantry. This deponent was appointed Major, as will appear by the Commission and other papers herewith. Two days afterwards the Gen. having information that the tories embodied on Raft swamp, upwards of 600 in numbers, were about to retreat before him towards Wilmington; detached this deponent with the dragoons and 40 mounted men with orders to endeavor to hold them at bay or impede their march so that he might follow and overtake them. When they were overtaken, the ground appearing favorable, they were charged by the dragoons and entirely defeated and dispersed, twenty or thirty being killed and wounded, entirely with sabre.

This deponent was afterwards detached by Col. Smith with one troop of dragoons and two companies of mounted men. At A. Moore’s plantation a mile below the ferry at Wilmington, surprised and defeated about one hundred tories, killed and wounded twelve; next day was in an unsuccessful attack on a British garrison in a brick house that covered the ferry opposite Wilmington, had one of our party killed.

This deponent was afterwards detached by order of Gen. Rutherford, with three companies one of which was dragoons, by Brunswick over Lockwood’s Folly and Waccamaw rivers; at a place called Seven Creeks, near the South Carolina line, was attacked about midnight by the noted Colonel Gainey of South Carolina, who was then under a truce with Gen. Marion, but it appears did not consider it binding in North Carolina; had one of our party killed and two wounded, and four horses killed. The cavalry charged and defeated the tories and killed one of Gainey’s party.

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For the further evidence of this service see Gen. Rutherford’s order to this deponent, (after the British had left Wilmington,) dated Wilmington, Nov. 18th, 1781, and the orders this deponent gave to those under his command when acting in pursuance of said order. The whole service was something over three months. Lost two men killed and two wounded, and was in four battles.

In the Regular Service.
From the month of May, 1778, until the same time in August, when furloughed to go home
3 months
From the 5th day of Novr., 1778, to the 5th Aug., 1779 In the Militia Service.
9 months
From about the 1st of June, 1780, until the 17th of Mar., 1781 including the time lying in the Hospital and disabled from service, except about two (2) weeks after got well of wounds, say
9 1-4 mos.
From about 20th of Aug., 1781, to 1st Decem., to Wilmington
3 1-4 mos.
24 1-2 mos.

The deponent states he has a record of his age, that he was born in Chester county, Pennsylvania, on the 13th day of October, 1759; that he removed to Mecklenburgh county in the State of North Carolina, when about ten years of age, was present in Charlotte on the 20th day of May, 1775, when the committee of the county of Mecklenburgh made their celebrated Declaration of Independence of the British Crown, upwards of a year before the Congress of the United States did at Philadelphia; that he resided in Mecklenburg county until the year 1792, and since that time in the county of Lincoln.

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present, and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.

Sworn to and subscribed, the day and year aforesaid.