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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Rand to Thomas Burke
Rand, John
July 30, 1781
Volume 22, Pages 1044-1046


Wake, July 30th, 1781.


This will be handed you by Francis Falkener, an express from Colonel Folsom, whom I left in the woods this day near Cape Fear River and who requested me to write your Excellency. On yesterday about 3 o’clock afternoon six or seven men crossed the river which was then up, in a canoe at the plantation of Collier McAlester’s about one mile above Sprawl’s ferry, took possession of the boat after proceeding down the bank and brought over, Mrs Sprawls thinks, sixty or seventy more under the command of one Colonel Wray. They instantly surrounded Sprawls’ house, distant from the river half a mile, the first man that presented his gun at Sprawls was a Sergeant, who came to the Assembly early in the session in the character of a British deserter and who as some of the gentlemen may remember, gave a particular description of the enemies works at Wilmington He obtained a pass from Governor Nash. Upon their first approach they shot down one Andrew Beard, a good and zealous friend to his Country, whom they left prostrate

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in the yard until this morning, when our people buried him. He appeared to be cut in several places in the arms. The wounds which this man received in his breast two or three weeks ago were then fresh, having a ball just before extracted from thence and two or three more left behind.

I observe this as it appears to me to be a wanton act of human barbarity. This man together with Mr. Travis, from Cross Creek, who was about taking refuge in this county, was returning from this place with a wagon and valuable team to bring in a load and unfortunately happened at the place. After plundering Sprawls of all his horses, a quantity of salt, his own and the buckles out of his wife’s shoes, cutting the waggon to pieces, &c., they returned over the river carrying off Sprawls, his wife and family, Travis and several poor people of the neighborhood, in short they left no living soul on the plantation. After getting over turned the flat down stream, leaving Mrs. Sprawls and the negroes some distance in the woods. Pesides this, information was received this morning that another party consisting of about 100 men, all mounted was seen and counted between the two little rivers at the distance of sixteen miles from the main river in an old road leading toward the same a little distance below. Sprawls, horses, men and cattle seem to be their object and I fancy they will collect all they can in Cumberland and the people on the river that is on this side have left their homes. Colo. Folsom through the course of the night collected twenty and expected to be about 100 strong when the whole joined; all that he could think of doing was to observe their motion and act on the defense until he had a force to enable him to cross the river. He requests the earliest assistance from your Excellency. About 150 or 200 horse and infantry, he thinks, would enable him to drive them from Cumberland and prevent their making further excursions, otherwise their stay there will perhaps endanger the whole State. I beg to observe that I know of no one there that would take charge of this matter so well as himself. I am certain that an officer of the greater industry, care and prudence is on this occasion wanting

He requests further a small supply of ammunition (they having scarcely any) by the bearer. In case your Excellency would order assistance from the adjacent counties they further observe that Wake has two thirds of his militia on duty, to-wit: 100 ordered to the lower

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districts, 100 more towards Salisbury, a Company of 15 sent forward towards Cape Fear last night, another Company of about 30 on duty to keep off a body of disaffected about New Hope at the lower end of Orange, exclusive of the militia regulars. Johnston County should I think spare about fifty.

I am Sir, Yr. Most Obed. Servt.,