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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Tipton to Joseph Martin
Tipton, John, 1730-1813
March 21, 1788
Volume 22, Pages 691-693


March 21st, 1788.

Dear General:—

I received yours of this instant, and can inform you of my safe return without being interrupted, but can inform you that Colonel Christian’s treatment is more favorable than it has been represented to you. Colonel Christian has always acted inimical to the authority of North Carolina since this unhappy dispute commenced, and even since the raising of the last General Assembly and for a man of such character to ride armed without being apprehended would betray too much diffidence in friends to government who had the opportunity of detecting him, but more especially as he could produce nothing to shew that he was on your business.

I am glad, sir, to find that you are about to transmit to government

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situation of our public affairs here, but it is not in my power to transmit to you the whole of the flags you request. Colonel Maxwell took the first to Sullivan, but its purport was for me to surrender in thirty minutes at their discretion and submit to the laws of Franklin, signed, John Sevier, Captain-General.

To this daring insult I sent no answer. Upon which hostilities commenced by their firing on Captain Parkison’s company, and afterwards on two women, one of whom they wounded. These proceedings happened on the evening of 27th of February.

Matters continued so, only with several guns being on both sides, when Sevier sent in another flag of a more mild nature, insisting that if I should not discontinue firing he must take some means to prevent it, with many other things. But this flag is either mislaid or lost. To this flag I sent an answer, letting the men assembled there know that all I wanted was a submission to the laws of North Carolina, and if they would acquiesce with this proposal I would disband my troops here and countermand the march of the troops from Sullivan, and directed this flag to Colonel John Sevier.

To this flag some genetlemen in their camp sent me in an answer, letting me know that Colonel Sevier was not there, but they would answer me themselves; which was to this import, viz.: That the troops here they were easy about, and as for the troops on their march to join me, they could countermand their march themselves, without putting me to any trouble.

Several other circumstances occurred during that evening of small moment, not worthy so long detail. However, on the morning of the 29th, before daylight, I received information that Colonel Maxwell, with the troops from Sullivan and a number from this county, had collected into one body at Mr. Dungan’s, about six miles from this place, from which place they marched, and before sunrise attacked them, when as soon as the firing begun I, with the troops from the house, sallied out and drove them from their ground without much resistance, with the loss of four or five wounded, one of which died in a few hours after, viz., Mr. Webb, from Sullivan, and Jonathan Pugh, Esq., Sheriff of Washington county, who died in eight days after the action.

However, we followed up the pursuit, when we met Robert Young, Jr., with a verbal flag from Sevier that if we would spare his life he would submit to the law; upon which we discontinued the pursuit

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and Colonel Maxwell sent him a flag, giving him and his party to the 11th of this instant to submit to the laws of North Carolina. To which he sent me an answer, with a private letter, both of which I herewith transmit you; to which I sent Mr. Sevier a private letter, letting him know my pacific intentions and that I had no intention of taking any advantage of them by force. A submission to the laws which they had violated was all I desired.

I should be happy, sir, to see you when convenient, and can assure you that I should be happy that a reconciliation should take place on honorable principles; but still must insist that violators of the law should be brought to justice, especially those who have so flagrantly transgressed. But, sir, I can inform you that I expect that there will be private injuries if not murders done in this quarter, as numbers of small parties are going about armed in the night, and have been about my house and James Stuart, Esquire’s, and several other houses, and certainly some measures ought to be taken to prevent such depredations.

I am, sir, with respect, your most obedient humble servant,


Public service. General Joseph Martin, Sullivan county, North Carolina.
Searles ended Friday night.