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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Declaration by William Graham concerning his military service in the Revolutionary War
Graham, William
Volume 22, Pages 126-128


He was residing in October, 1832, in Rutherford County, N. C., aged 91 years and stated that in 1776 he was appointed Commissioner

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to receive certain articles for the Minute Men in the Militia, by the Field Officers of the Province of N. C., at Cross Creek, he being at the time Colonel Commandant of the Tryon Militia, by an appointment of the Congress at Hillsboro, N. C., in the following words: ‘North Carolina, Hillsboro, in Congress, September 9th, 1775. This may certify that William Graham, Esq., is appointed by order of Congress, Colonel of Militia in the County of Tryon, by order Samuel Johnson, President; Andrew Knox, Secretary.’ He continued under that appointment until the military were better organized and had a regular Governor. In the year 1779 he received another commission appointing him Colonel of the Lincoln Regiment of Militia, dated at Smithfield, May 12th, 1779, signed by Richard Caswell, Governor and J. Glasgow, Secretary.

He was attacked in September, 1780, in his own house, when, with David Docky and Wm. Twitty, they repulsed about 25 Tories, killing one and wounding three as he believes. Shortly after that the Tories, with an additional number, returned to his house, removing all the moveables and clothing they found and six likely Negroes. Soon after this the officers agreed to assemble their forces at Brown’s Creek, as a better situation to watch the movements of the British and Tories, but before many arrived, and before organization they were driven from the position. While on their way back were overtaken by the enemy at Wafford’s Iron Works, where in the engagement the enemy were defeated, losing a number killed and six prisoners. The Americans had several brave men killed, among whom was Major Burrill Smith of Georgia, Thomas Scott and Capt. John Potts, that fell by the side of Graham. In a few hours after the battle, Ferguson came in sight, which caused a hasty departure from the place and after passing over Broad River, it became necessary to separate and reunite their forces. Ferguson marched on through Rutherford County to Burke County, N. C., where an engagement took place and Major Dunlap, one of Ferguson’s officers, was wounded which caused the enemy to return back. At this time the Americans began to embody and I (Graham) think the same Summer the battle of Ramsour Mills was fought” (June 20th, 1780). Graham was not in the battle but arrived there the next day in company with General Rutherford and Colonel Martin and was directed to keep in readiness as strong force as he could raise, at a moment’s warning. Large bodies could not be kept together as they had nothing

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to subsist on, but Graham kept up what was called a “Flying Camp.” He was over the mountains in, as he thinks, 1776, with General Rutherford against the Indians. He has in his possession many orders from different officers to perform duty, but too tedious to detail. Among them are: One from General Greene; five from General Rutherford; two from General Thomas Polk; seven from General Wm. L. Davidson and two letters of directions from Colonel Smallwood. When the war commenced he was wealthy, with a firm constitution and was stout, but in the seven years, in the prime of life, he served with all his strength and fortune, in defence of liberty and has lost all. This service as Colonel of Militia was more severe than that of officers in the regular army for the Militia in active service are without camp equipage, no commissary, no munitions of war, except by accident. Now he is old and blind.

He was born in Augusta, Va., in 1742, and when the war commenced he was living in Tryon, now Lincoln County, N. C.

He was the oldest Colonel in the frontier parts of North Carolina and much of the arrangements for their protection devolved upon him; such as selections of localities for Forts, which had to be erected and provided with a garrison. He names Waddleboro, Earles White Oak, Russells and Botts, as Forts under his direction and superintendence and to whom spies reported.