Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from James Emmet to Thomas Burke
Emmet, James
August 19, 1781
Volume 22, Pages 566-567


Campbelton, 19th Aug., 1781.

His Excellency Thomas Burke, Esquire, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of North Carolina.


I am under the disagreeable necessity of acquainting your Excellency that on Tuesday last, the 14th inst., between 9 and 10 o’clock in the morning, this Town was in the most sudden Manner imaginable surprised by a party of the Enemy under the command of Colns. Kingsby, Ray and McNeil. They entered the Town in so secret and sudden a Manner that it was out of the Power of any Man, who was in it, to make his escape. I was at a Plantation I have about a Mile off, when I was alarmed by a Party of about 20 Horse. The Noise of their Horses’ Feet gave me just Time to slip into a Swamp, where I lay until the Party left the Plantation, which they did as soon as they deprived me of my Horse. I then got over the River, where I learned their Number to be about 300. I was likewise informed that same Evening that McNeil, with 100 men, had gone up the river on the West side, and not being able to judge where they might intend to cross the river, thought it my best way to keep where I was. Had I done so I would have kept clear of them; but at

-------------------- page 567 --------------------
such times so many reports are flying that there is no such Thing as distinguishing the true one. At Midnight between the 16th and 17th, word was brought me that a Col. Fanning came down the Country with 100 Men, made a short stay at Cross Creek, had crossed the River at Lower Campbelton late in the evening and at that time was encamped with an Intention in the morning to pursue his March up the River and so join McNeil on the East side. On this Information, I unfortunately crossed the River early in the morning, and about 9 o’clock was made a Prisoner by McNeil, on his return to Town. It was not my intention to trouble Your Excellency with this tedious relation by way of Intelligence. I am sure you do not expect it from me in my situation, but as I have many private enemies in this County who would be glad to lay hold on any Circumstance to vilify my Conduct and blacken my Name, I have taken the liberty to trouble you with this, by way of vindication.

With all deference, I remain, Sir, your Excellency’s obedient servant,

James Emmett, Campbelton, Aug. 19th. Intelligence. Favoured by T. Williams, Esq.