Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Archibald D. Murphey to Joseph Graham
Murphey, Archibald D. (Archibald De Bow), 1777-1832
January 1821
Volume 19, Pages 970-972


Haw River, Orange County,
January, 1821.

Dear General:—Col. Conner delivered to me in Raleigh, your account of the battle at Ramsour’s, which I have read with much interest, for it was the first time I had any correct idea of that affair. I have the account in my possession and will shortly give it to the public. Your letter to Col. Conner I have copied and now enclose the original to his care.

Twelve months ago I suggested to a few friends the propriety of making an effort to rescue from oblivion the incidents of the Revolutionary War, which occurred in this State. The leading events only are recorded. A detail of inferior events in character, is wanted not only to gratify curiosity, but to make out a portion of our history, which is likely to be soon lost. It is due to the men engaged in them. It is due to the character of the State, to have collected and embodied all the events of the Revolutionary War, which occurred in this State and the upper parts of South Carolina. I have mentioned the subject to Col. Polk, who very readily promised his aid, and he has contributed very liberally, and promised to contribute more upon his return from Tennessee. I had intended long since to address you on the subject, but a succession of severe afflictions and the pressure of a variety of business, suspended my attention to the subject until lately. I think with you, that the union of a few men will do much in a little time, towards collecting materials for a regular minute detail of all such events as are worthy of being recorded. In all the events of life great things depend so much upon a complication of small ones—that it is desirable to get a history of everything that in their bearing could any how contribute to the principal events. Anecdotes, likewise connected with the thread of the narrative, are useful and amusing. They show the

-------------------- page 971 --------------------
character of the times and of the principal actors. After therefore, drawing up your narrative, give in notes all the anecdotes you have stored up in your memory. Speak of the characters of particular men and give biographical notices of them; point out the motives which probably influenced them in taking sides. Describe the manner in which bodies of militia were from time to time hastily raised, their equipments, arms, &c.

We have no regular account of the military police of the State at that period. Describe the graduation of military authority, who commissioned the officers, who called them out upon emergency, by what authority were the militia called out, how long were they bound to serve, who supplied their arms and accoutrements, &c. Give a regular account of the militia system at that period.

Give an account of Gen. Rutherford. What section of the State did his command embrace. What was his education, his pursuits in life, &c. Say all you know of his expedition against the Cherokees.

I beg you to fill up in detail the outline contained in your letter, & add to it, as much more as you can.

The general tory war seems divisible into distinct periods, and distinct districts of country. Trace the origin of the tories, their first assemblages, their leaders and their opponents; get the history of the battle of King’s Mountain, with the principal circumstances leading to and following it; the history of Col. Cleaveland’s operations against the tories, and of other distinguished whigs in the west; get the history of Col. Bryant’s operations, his character, place of residence and ultimate fate, and the principal anecdotes connected with his marauding adventures.

Add to your account of the battle of Ramsour’s such facts and anecdotes of the principal actors on each side as you may be able to collect.

Collect all the information you can of Fanning’s adventures, and of the Tory war on the Cape Fear; also of the retreat of Cornwallis, (which I believe is not mentioned in your memorandum.)

Write a detailed account of General Davie’s transactions. I wish to know something of his family, his education, his entrance into the army and his exploits as a soldier.

This letter is confined to particulars. Your memorandum is the

-------------------- page 972 --------------------
outline of the general narrative. Write at length, and be not afraid of saying too much.

In addition to the events of the Revolutionary war, I beg you to write out a history of the Regulation under Gov. Tryon. We have nearly lost all this part of our history; say, therefore, everything you can learn upon the subject.

That period of our civil history immediately following the close of the Revolutionary war is very interesting. Devote one chapter at least, to that.

I shall be glad to keep up a correspondence with you, and I will from time to time to submit to your perusal such narratives as I may collect. I feel some zeal upon the subject, for a large portion of our history now lives only in the recollection of a few survivors of the Revolution. We must soon embody it or it will be entirely lost. Write to me at the Haw River Post-office. My best respects to your son James.

Yours very truly,
Gen. Jos. Graham.