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The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon
After the French and Indian War was won by the English in Europe and on the seas and the Colonies in North America, the Colonists and especially the Scots/Irish were full of self confidence and ready to take on anything. They started becoming active in the government of the colonies, and they were for autonomy and independence. When the English started taxing the colonies to pay for the reconstruction of the English economy and military, the colonists objected severely. Many of the King’s tax collectors who were specified by the Stamp Act were beaten, tarred and feathered, and rode out of town on rails. When that was deemed a failure by the crown, and the tariff was imposed on many trade goods which were sent to the colonies, ie. tea, the colonists were fed up.
The Calvinists of New England may have fired the first shot in the Revolutionary War, but they soon were joined by the Scots/Irish from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas. The Scots/Irish had taken control of Pennsylvania and Frederick County, Maryland by means of establishing Revolutionary Committees. In Philadelphia the framework for independence was created. John Hancock and Charles Thompson received a draft of the constitution - both being from Londonderry. Five of the signers of the final document were Scots/Irish. The Scots/Irish of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia pledged themselves to the revolution. Justices in these colonies administered loyalty oaths to the cause of independence. Sympathizers to the Crown were severely dealt with, accordingly. Judge Samuel McDowell of Rockbridge County, Virginia (the son of Capt. John McDowell) presided over one such case of The Commonwealth of Virginia against (vs.) Alexander Miller:
"Upon considering the charges against Alexander Miller, the defendant, as well as the evidence adduced in support of the same, and also the verdict of the jury, we, the Court, are of opinion that the matter, as far as it relates to aiding and giving intelligence to the enemy, comes within the ordinance of Convention, and therefore give judgment: That the said Miller be confined to the bounds of the plantation whereon he now lives, in this County, till the end of the present war with Great Britain, and that he do not in any manner aid, abet, correspond, or converse with the enemies of America, nor argue nor reason with any person or persons whatsoever on any political subject relating to the dispute between Britain and America, or until he be thence discharged by the Executive Power, or General Assembly, of the Commonwealth of Virginia; and in the meantime he, the said Miller, be kept in safe custody until he shall enter into bond himself in the sum of one hundred pounds and two good securities in the sum of fifty pounds each. And that the whole of the costs of this prosecution be levied on the estate of said Alexander Miller. viz: To Thomas Smith and James Hill, they finding themselves and horses for going 120 miles to William Hutchison’s, on Indian Creek, in Botetourt County, each at the rate of 4 pence per mile, and for returning the same distance with the prisoner, at the rate of 4 pence per mile each. To Robert McFarland, summoned by the officer; to assist, for going 50 miles, at 4 pence per mile. To the witnesses for attending one day each, 25 pounds of tobacco, or two shillings and one penny, viz: William Ewing, Silas Hart, Mary Erwin, James Montgomery, William Givens, Robert McFarland, Thomas Smith, and James Hill. To the clerk, for attendance two days, twenty shillings. To the sheriff, for attending the Court and summoning the jury, twenty shillings. To Daniel Kidd, for summoning the witnesses, in which he rode 150 miles, at 4 pence per mile. And that the clerk issue executions for the above sums, respectively, when required thereto by the claimants.
Judge Samuel McDowell had been a Captain in the French and Indian War, commissioned on 16 August 1759. On 21 November 1759, he was installed as County Commissioner and Justice (1772) in Rockbridge County, Virginia. Col. Samuel McDowell, the son of Capt. John McDowell of Virginia, was a captain of the Rangers Company at the Battle of Point Pleasant in 1774. At the Battle of Point Pleasant, he served as aide-de-camp to General Isaac Shelby, who later became the first governor of Kentucky. Samuel became a Colonel in the Revolutionary War, serving in Nathaniel Greene's campaign in North Carolina, and was with the army that drove Gen. Cornwallis to Wilmington. In 1775 in conjunction with his kinsman Thomas Lewis, the son of settler John and brother of the hero of Point Pleasant, was chosen to represent the freeholders of Augusta in the convention which met at Richmond, Virginia. Samuel was a member of the 2nd convention that met at Williamsburg in 1776. He served with John and James his two eldest sons as officers in the Revolutionary War. Samuel, his youngest son was a private. He held the rank of Colonel and distinguished himself in the battle of Guilford Court House. He raised a battalion at his own expense to aid in repelling the invasion of Virginia by Benedict Arnold. In 1783 he was appointed with Col. Thomas Marshall as a surveyor of the public lands in Fayette County, then one third of Kentucky.
Samuel, like his father and many of the other McDowells, was trained in the skills of surveying. Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis, the British commander, had appointed Major Patrick Ferguson as Inspector of Militia for South Carolina to defeat the local militia and to recruit Loyalists. Ferguson's opposition included men from South Carolina's backwoods under Thomas (the Gamecock) Sumter which included William McDowell; North Carolinians commanded by Gen. Charles McDowell (the son of Joseph McDowell, b. 1715); and Overmountain men from today's Tennessee under Gen. Isaac Shelby, who later became the first Governor of Kentucky and the father-in-law of Dr. Ephraim McDowell (b. 1771), a son of Col. Samuel McDowell (b. 1735) of Virginia and later Kentucky.
Moving into North Carolina, Ferguson attempted to intimidate the western settlers, threatening to march into the mountains and "lay waste the country with fire and sword" if they did not lay down their arms and pledge allegiance to the King. The response was a furious army formed on the western frontier. Growing in numbers as they marched east, some 900 men gave chase to Ferguson, surrounding his army at Kings Mountain, South Carolina, and killing or capturing Ferguson's entire command. Pieces from Col. Ferguson’s china dinnerware were presented to Col. Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens (b. 1758) in recognition of his heroism at King’s Mountain and are still prized by family members today. This victory was referred to as " . . . That Turn of the Tide of Success" by Thomas Jefferson.
Ferguson's defeat was a stunning blow to British fortunes. The strength of the Patriot militia was affirmed. The hoped for Loyalist support didn't materialize. Cornwallis was forced to pull back from North Carolina, giving the Continental Army time to bring fresh regulars and new commanders south. On January 17,1781, Daniel Morgan, using Continentals and militia, under which Major John McDowell (another son of Capt. Joseph McDowell of North Carolina served, defeated Colonel Banastre Tarleton's British army at Cowpens, South Carolina. That winter saw a running campaign between Cornwallis and the armies of Morgan and Nathanael Greene. Try as Cornwallis might, the Americans always seemed to cross the river to safety before Cornwallis could cut them off.
In 1781, Col. Samuel McDowell (b. 1735) who had commanded the Rockbridge Militia at the Battle of Guilford Court House, in June of 1781 was sworn in at Staunton, Virginia as a member of the Governor’s Council alongside Governor Nelson at the same time and place. At Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina, on March 15th, Greene finally turned to face Cornwallis. Greene's army including Col. Samuel McDowell’s militia, was driven from the battlefield, but Cornwallis suffered severe losses which he could not replace. Cornwallis pulled back to recuperate, finally moving his army north into Virginia without subduing North Carolina. In the fall of 1781, George Washington rushed his army south to join French reinforcements. When French warships fortuitously gained control of the Chesapeake Bay, Cornwallis was besieged and forced to surrender on October 19,1781, just over a year after Kings Mountain.
During the Revolutionary War, the McDowell militia regiment of North Carolina, as members and commanders of the militias of "Overmountain" and the "Backwater" Men, fought victoriously at numerous battles of the war. McDowell County in western North Carolina is named in honor of Col. Joseph "Pleasant Gardens" McDowell who had distinguished himself during the Revolutionary War by successfully employing guerrilla warfare tactics against numerically superior Loyalist forces. His cousin Brig. General Charles McDowell (b. 1743, who married his cousin Grace Grizzel Greenlee Bowman in 1760) and his cousin Maj. Joseph "Quaker Meadows" McDowell (b. 1756) also served in the Revolutionary War. The story of Grace Grizzel Greenlee Bowman McDowell, like her gravestone in Quaker Meadows cemetery, is time-worn and seldom contemplated, for the short pamplet biography written by William Carson Ervin (a cousin to the McDowells through both the Erwins and Carsons) and published by the North Carolina Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the turn of the century is long out-of-print and, in intervening years, has acquired some of the flavor of an old-fashioned Valentine. Though her story is early American, there are elements redolent of the Old World beyond the waters.
To begin with, she was christened with a melodious name, but was also known as Grizzel (Grissel or Grizel) and old French variant of the name Grace, held in the McDowell (MacDowall) family since their days in Scotland. It is a small name most applicable to a pretty girl or, at least, one endowed with the indefinable quality of charm. Grizzel has a fairytale ring to it, but certain legends indicate that she had qualities, too, that were attributed to a later, fictitious heroine called Katie Scarlett O'Hara. Then, too, her mother Mary Elizabeth McDowell Greenlee, lived into the incredible old age of 104 years, a circumstance (among others) that caused whispers to pass that her longevity was due to the practice of witchcraft. Grace was born in a log cabin in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, settled by her parents’ two families in 1737. Grace was only 5 years old when the French and Indian War erupted, and during its long course, many people who were neighbors to her family abandoned their cabin homes and forsook the valley, others like the Greenlees and the McDowells, stayed on and suffered the loss of family members and friends. Capt. John McDowell, one of her uncles, was killed in 1742 at the battle of Balcony Falls. The time eventually came when her father James Greenlee thought it his duty to settle his daughter for life, and he promised her in marriage to a wealthy landowner much older than she. It is obvious that Grace must have assented to this old world custom, though perhaps reluctantly.
In describing this, her first wedding day, her gentle biographer said, ...that the wedding trousseau was prepared, the wedding feast in readiness, and that the ceremony had actually progressed to the point where the bride-to-be was asked if she would take the ancient bridegroom for "better or for worse," when she electrified the guests by a most emphatic "No!" Be that as it may have been, another wedding day did come when Grace was not a reluctant bride, for that day she married John Bowman, the young man of her choice. After coming to North Carolina with her husband, he was mortally wounded at the battle of Ramsours Mill and subsequently died. Upon hearing of her husbands grievous wounding, Grace rode horseback carry her little daughter Mary "Polly" with her, and followed "dim trails through the South Mountains," in a race with death and reached her wounded husband a short time before he died. She buried her husband near where he fell and, in deep grief, rode to her home again, with little Polly a comforting burden in her arms and with her mare, on the return journey, setting her own pace. To face her grief and in an effort to say "goodbye", she may have written the eulogy subsequently attributed to her when it was found later "among Bowman papers":
Like the rising sun in the morn
He went away, left me forlorn
And saw the tears I shed;
My boding heart did then foretell
That fated evening heard the knell
That my dear John had bled.
Tears that must ever fall!
For ah no lights the past recall,
No cries awoke the dead.
Weep not Polly for I will be
A mother and father unto thee oh.
She came home to her role as a new widow and mother to Polly and a woman with lands to till and no man in the house, but slaves to plant and harvest for her. She became a planter, and from the fruit of her fields and the fields of others became a procurer of supplies for the rebel Whigs and their unofficial quartermaster, with wagons of food and supplies going for their need. She had her encounters too, with local Tories and sometimes bested them. He biographer records with enjoyment that "on one occasion...she pursued some Tories who had plundered her home...and compelled the robbers, at the point of a musket, to give up her property...another story..is that on one occasion some of Tarleton's troopers carried away some of the Bowman horses. This courageous woman rode into the British camp some miles away and demanded her horses from the officer in charge, and was allowed to bring them back in triumph. In the fall of 1782, she married her cousin Charles McDowell and went to live at McDowell Station (Quaker Meadows) and most assuredly shared the house with Margaret O’Neill McDowell, her mother-in-law. Grace was to bear five McDowell children,..." Senators, judges, soldiers, lawyers, leaders in business and the professions are her sons. Brilliant and beautiful women are her daughters". Grace Greenlee Bowman McDowell was only 32 years old when she married for the second time to Charles McDowell. "Though it cannot be said with any certainty that she lived happily ever after, the wilderness girl, after the end of the second war she had experienced, their nearness to her almost participation, became, for her time and area, the Great Lady, and we hope that she had some silken dresses for her back, for her new husband (Charles), we know, after he no longer wore his uniform, did, on occasion, wear velvet knee britches with silver buckles at the knee, and silver buckles on his shoes".
On the 2th of September 1780, Major Patrick Ferguson with some seventy of the American Loyalist Volunteers, and several hundred Tory militiamen set out for western North Carolina and the foothills of the mighty Blue Ridge mountains of Appalachia. Lieutenant Anthony Allaire maintained his diary of marches and countermarches and "getting in motion", and provided a graphic report of what kind of medical attention awaited the wounded of either side in the Back Country. At Wofford’s iron works they met a "Rebel militia-man that got wounded in the right arm at the skirmish at Cedar Springs, the 8th of August. The bone was very much shattered. It was taken off by one (Mr.) Frost, a blacksmith, with a shoemaker’s knife and carpenter’s saw. He stopped the blood with the fungus of the oak, without taking up a blood vessel." We can only assume that the Rebel’s anesthetic was a liberal supply of whiskey. But given the state of surgery then and the resemblance of military field hospitals to slaughterhouses, the Rebel could have been in worse hands than Frost the blacksmith.
On 7 September, Ferguson and his men crossed into North Carolina and marched to Gilbert Town (later Rutherfordton), about 55 miles west of Charlotte, where Ferguson set up his base of operations. Lt. Allaire described it as containing "one dwelling house, one barn, a blacksmith’s shop, and some out-houses." Here in the dark of night would occur a bloody deed in the savage Carolina conflict that in English we call civil war but is best expressed in the telling German word Bruderkrieg (brother’s war).
Lt. Allaire described a skirmish with Col. Charles McDowell’s band on Cane Creek, about 21 miles north of Gilbert Town, when forty American Loyalist Volunteers and 100 Tory militia finally came into contact with the Rebels: "We totally routed...those congress heroes. Our loss was two wounded and one killed." Rebel accounts collected years after the skirmish claim that McDowell initiated the action and that several Tories were killed before the Rebels retreated. After this action, Charles McDowell and his men crossed the mountains and took refuge with the Overmountain Men at the Watauga Settlements. Two days later, Allaire wrote that "the poor, deluded people of this Province begin to be sensible of their error, and come in very fast." Little did he know that Col. Charles McDowell had concocted a plan that was now coming into play. What Lt. Allaire, and at least for a while Patrick Ferguson, did not know was that many if not most of the people coming in to take British protection and even to swear oaths of allegiance to George III were doing so as part of McDowell’s deliberate Rebel policy to save the region’s cattle herds. According to written statements made in 1797 by two prominent North Carolina militia officers, then Maj. Joseph McDowell and Col. David Vance, both of whom participated in the campaign, Col. McDowell, who was then in charge, suggested this trick to the leading men of the country. Some had absolutely refused and instead drove all the cattle they could find to the heads of deep mountain glens. "Hunting" John had driven his cattle up to the cove. Others were prevailed on to follow Charles McDowell’s suggestion. In doing so they risked and often bore the brunt of public obloquy for their actions, for obviously this deliberate policy to deceive the British and save Rebel herds could not be shared with the populace lest leaks occur.
But Patrick Ferguson did begin to suspect that he was the victim of a ruse. His men were in need of meat, and so he took a force into the field to search for Rebel cattle. Accompanying him was the noted Indian fighter Captain - later Colonel - John Carson, who was one of the men who had agreed to Col. Charles’ plan. John Carson was the husband of Rachel Matilda McDowell and of Mary Moffett McDowell, the widow of Col. Joseph "Pleasant Gardens" McDowell. Rachel was a daughter of "Hunting" John McDowell of Pleasant Gardens (Col. Charles’ cousin) and his wife Ann Evans Edmiston McDowell, and Mary was the sister of Charles’ brother Col. Joseph "Quaker Meadows" McDowell’s wife Margaretta and also a daughter of Col. George Moffett and Sarah Martha McDowell - daughter of Capt. John McDowell and the granddaughter of Ephraim McDowell of Rockbridge and Augusta Counties, Virginia. Both women were close relatives of Col. Charles McDowell, the Patriot commander. Ferguson found a large herd roaming in the cane-breaks. Ferguson’s men assumed that the cattle belonged to Rebels and began slaughtering them. John Carson, who knew who owned the cattle, watched without comment until over 100 head had been slaughtered. Then he observed that it was possible that they belonged to three Tories who had joined Ferguson’s force. The upshot of this incident was that the owners of the cattle, loyal Tories all, were incensed, the Rebels made sure that the story was spread abroad, and Patrick Ferguson realized that he had been outwitted. But John Carson’s good name, temporarily sacrificed for the Rebel cause, was not easily recovered. Many years after the Revolution a man charged that John Carson had been a Tory. John Carson’s son, Samuel Price Carson, a member of Congress, thereupon challenged the slanderer to a duel and killed him.
Lt. Anthony Allaire also became aware that the countryside harbored people not "sensible of their error." On the 15th of September, with forty American Volunteers and a few hundred militia, he "got in motion" again, in one four-mile stretch found Cane Creek "so amazingly crooked that we were obliged to cross it nineteen times," and on the following day encountered a "very handsome place," still known as Pleasant Gardens (the home of "Hunting" John McDowell’s family), a settlement "composed of the most violent Rebels I ever saw, particularly the young ladies." The hospitality was just as thin at Quaker Meadows. Prior to the Battle of King's Mountain on 7 October, where Col. Joseph of Pleasant Gardens, Col. Charles and his brother Maj. Joseph McDowell were leading figures, men from Colonel Ferguson's army visited Quaker Meadows and ransacked the McDowell’s house, appropriating the clothing of Charles and Joseph. They told the men's mother Margaret O’Neill McDowell, who presided over the house, that when they caught Charles they would kill him outright. Joe, they would kill on bended knees after humiliating him by making him beg for his life. The Irish Margaret O’Neill McDowell, far from being intimidated or overawed, bade them to be careful lest all the begging should be done by themselves. Margaret O’Neill McDowell, by her defiance of the Tories, is one of the few women recognized by the Daughters of the Revolution as being a patriot of the Revolution."
Recalled as a striking woman, intelligent, articulate and with tendency for speaking her mind with a deep-rooted hatred of the English. Margaret O’Neill was a daughter of Laird Samuel O’Neill of County Antrim. She was born and raised in Ireland’s Shane’s Castle, the home of the O’Neills and descendants of the great Con O’Neill and of Hugh O’Neill - the leader of Tyrone’s Rebellion. Many other McDowells served during the American Revolution including Maj. John McDowell (born 1757 in Virginia and married to Hannah Keller - the daughter of Hannah McDowell and John Keller), Maj. James McDowell of Mecklenburg County (Commander at the Battle of Cowpens), Col. John McDowell of Mecklenburg County, William McDowell of South Carolina, Ensign James McDowell, a Lt. John McDowell, two doctors named John McDowell, and many others.
Skirmishes in North Carolina were commonplace between the supporters of Independence and loyalist Tories. A noted Tory was killed by James Gray on Col. John McDowell’s (Cleghorn) Plantation in Mecklenburg County prior to the gathering for the impending battle at King’s Mountain. From Scotland to Ulster to Rutherford County, these people (the Scots/Irish) had survived centuries of living in a hard environment, which made them hard, both physically and socially. Through famine, plague, poor soil for crops, and constant fighting, they learned to fight back, to give blow for blow, and above all to endure. They had been tempered by their religion, but it too was a hard religion, steeped in the old testament religion of the Lord of battle. And finally these men came to the gathering at Sycamore Shoals, a gathering primarily of Presbyterians. They were joined by Colonel William Campbell (kin to the McDowells of Virginia) and his men from Western Virginia, by Isaac Shelby and John Sevier, from that area, and they determined to go and get Ferguson. But first they would have a religious service, after all, six of their commanders were elders of the church: Colonels Campbell, Cleveland, (Charles) McDowell, Shelby, Sevier, and Williams.
It was altogether fitting that they would gather there along with their women folk and children, under the preaching of the Reverend Sam Doaks, a Presbyterian Minister. He had done his share of fighting but would not go with them after Ferguson, but stay in defense of the women and children. He preached a powerful sermon admonishing the men to do their duty in the upcoming battle. He prayed and asked the Lord to note the similarities of these men to the army of Gideon in the fight against the Midianites and he ended his prayer with the words of Gideon when he instructed his men to surround the enemy and on the signal of the trumpets to shout, 'The Sword of The Lord and of Gideon.' Reverend Sam paused. Then raised his arms and his voice to the gathering and told them "let that be your battle cry. The Sword of The Lord and of Gideon". The men shouted back "The Sword of The Lord and of Gideon."
As a General in the Revolutionary War, Charles McDowell, the son of Capt. Joseph McDowell (b. 1715) of Virginia and North Carolina, commanded a regiment of 160 soldiers from Burke and Rutherford counties North Carolina. His troops fought at the battle of King's Mountain, although he was not present during the battle. He served as the commander of forces that captured and destroyed a fort on June 1780 at the Pacolet River. Brig. Gen. Charles McDowell commanded with Gen. Isaac Shelby at Cedar Hill and commanded forces at Musgrove Hill and Cave Creek. On 12 September 1780, Gen. Charles McDowell had ambushed part of Ferguson's army at Cane Creek but was driven off and fled to Sycamore Shoals to await reinforcement by the Overmountain men.
In late September, 1780, William and his cousin Arthur Campbell assembled the Washington County, Virginia militia. On 25 September 1780, Isaac Shelby, John Sevier, and William Campbell mustered the militia of the Watauga and Holston Valleys at Sycamore Shoals of the Watauga River (Elizabethton) to join the Burke County militia under Charles McDowell. Fort Watauga is today reconstructed at the Tennessee historic area. In 1780, this was North Carolina, later the State of Franklin (or Frankland), later the Southwest Territory. On 30 September 1780, North Carolinians under Benjamin Cleveland, Joseph Winston, and William Lenoir joined the Overmountain men at the McDowell home at Quaker Meadows. On 1 and 2 October 1780, the army stopped and camped to dry out and prepared for battle expected soon. The unpopular Charles McDowell was persuaded to step aside as commander. A tireless campaigner in 1780, he stepped down from command rather than split the Patriot army. Gen. William Campbell of Virginia, whose descendants were cousins to the Prestons and McDowells of Virginia, was chosen as a compromise replacement. With his army disbanded in September 1780 and Gen. Charles resigned his commission, but continued to support the patriots by manufacturing powder with the help of his wife Grace Grizzel Greenlee Bowman McDowell, and secretly carrying it to the army for use at the Battle of King’s Mountain on 7 October 1780.
A month before in September, Charles McDowell had ridden to ask for a regular Continental officer to command his forces, aware of his own shortcomings as a military commander. Leading the largest contingent of militia, the Virginian Gen. William Campbell was chosen by his fellow colonels to command in Charles McDowell's place. Though not a great military man, Charles later served as a member of the North Carolina state senate, 1782-1788 and of the North Carolina House of Commons in 1809-1810.
Maj. Joseph "Quaker Meadows" McDowell had entered the army in the regiment of his brother General Charles McDowell as its Major, in February 1776, at the age of twenty-two. They had fought in expeditions against the Scots Tories and the Cherokee Indians, who had attacked the Catawba settlements. In July 1776, he helped defend a fort containing 120 women and children with his brother Charles and nine other men against the Cherokees. They were also on the Rutherford campaign against the Cherokees. Their other battles included Ramsour Mills, Musgraves Mill, Earle’s Ford on the Pacolet, the Cowpens in January 1781, and Kings Mountain in October 1780, where his cousin Col. Joseph of Pleasant Gardens was in charge of the regiment. In a history by Draper, "The bayonet charge down the mountain by Ferguson's regulars was driven back by the well directed fire from the rifles of (Gen. Isaac) Shelby's and (Col. Joseph) McDowell's men. The victory was complete." This is the source of a long running dispute within the family. Both Josephs’ of Quaker Meadows and of Pleasant Gardens’ descendants claim their respective Joseph was the Hero of King’s Mountain. The combined evidence indicates that Col. Joseph of Pleasant Gardens was indeed the Joseph McDowell to be credited here. The monument at King’s Mountain bears neither’s name, as a testament to the strength of both side’s contention and the veracity of the dispute.
As an aftermath of the Battle of King’s Mountain, thirty-six Tories were tried for treason and were to be hung. Among the group that was tried by the ad hoc military council were the brothers John and Arthur McFall. John McFall almost got off. All he had done was verbally abuse a Rebel’s wife and whip their ten-year old son with a switch cut from a tree for refusing to feed the horses of McFall’s band and telling McFall, "If you want your horses fed, feed them yourself." Major Joseph McDowell recommended leniency. Colonel Benjamin Cleveland sternly disagreed. "That man, McFall, went to the house of Martin Davenport, one of my best soldiers, when he was away from home fighting for his country, insulted his wife, and whipped his child, and no such man ought to be allowed to live." McFall was found guilty. The McDowells were successful in saving John McFall’s brother, Arthur, who after the war became a famous hunter in the mountains and never forgot the McDowell’s for saving him, and lived to between the ages of ninety and 100. Of the thirty-six convicted, only 9 were actually hung. One of the men who received mercy that day told Col. Isaac Shelby, who had proposed the hangings end after the first nine, "You have saved my life, and I will tell you a secret. (Gen. Banastre) Tarleton will be here in the morning. A woman has brought the news." Gen. Banastre Tarleton was known as Bloody Tarleton or Bloody Ban since his butchery at the Battle of Waxhaws. "Tarleton’s Quarter" became synonymous with "No Prisoners".
In 1779, Maj. Joseph "Quaker Meadows" McDowell fought in the Stono expedition. In the Revolutionary forces, while serving under his brother Charles, the Commander of District, he fought in all the battles of western North Carolina. Entering the service of the state at the close of the war, he was sent to the House of Commons in 1787, serving until 1792. In 1788, he was a delegate to the North Carolina Constitutional Convention, in which he was a leader of the opposition that rejected the Federal Constitution until a Bill of Rights was added. He passed from the House of Commons to Congress in 1797, where for 7 years he was an active opponent of the federalists, serving in 1787 as a commissioner for settling the boundary line between Tennessee and North Carolina. He wielded a strong influence as a Republican (Whig) leader in western section of his state of North Carolina. McDowell County in Western North Carolina is, however, named in his cousin Col. Joseph "Pleasant Gardens" honor, who had served in congress.
Maj. John McDowell, the son of Col. Samuel McDowell of Virginia and Kentucky, had served as the commander of Company 1 of Morgan’s Rifle Regiment, commanded by Gen. Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Saratoga. Morgan’s Regiment was recruited from the settlers of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia. They were the first in the field and the last out of it. A report to Congress accorded the glory of the action at Saratoga on 19 September and 7 October 1777 "entirely to the valor of the rifle regiment and corps of light infantry under the command of Col. Morgan". Morgan’s men were armed each with a rifle, a tomahawk, and a long knife and were known as "The Corps of Rangers". They were dressed in flannel shirts, cloth or buckskin breeches, buckskin leggings, and moccasins. Overtop of this, they wore brown linen or buckskin hunting shirts that were confined by a belt holding the knife and tomahawk. They wore caps on which appeared the words "Liberty or Death". Morgan’s Regiment was "the corps the army of Gen. Burgoyne was most afraid of". In the Revolutionary War, Maj. John McDowell also served with General George Washington at the crossing of the Delaware, at the battles of Princeton and Trenton, and starved and suffered the winter cold at Valley Forge. He was wounded at Brandywine, and also fought at the battles of Monmouth and Yorktown. Maj. John McDowell was awarded land grants in Kentucky in 1789 for his military service during the Revolutionary War. Major John McDowell later attained his rank of Major during the War of 1812.
A Sgt. John McDowell, of South Carolina was a Sergeant who served with Lt. Col. Francis Marion "the Swamp Fox" in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment Grenadier Company during the Revolutionary War from 4 November 1775 to 1 November 1779 and fought at the Battles of Sullivan’s Island and Spring Hill Redoubt. In February 1776, the 2nd South Carolina Regt. had helped build a fort on Sullivan’s Island. On 26 June 1776 the fort on Sullivan’s Island, later called Fort Moultrie, was attacked by 11 armed British vessels mounting 262 guns, against which the Americans mounted 26. John McDowell was carried on the muster roll of the Grenadier Company, under the command of Col. Isaac Motte on 25 August 1778. This muster role recorded then Private John McDowell’s enlistment date as 16 June 1778.
The attack on Fort Sullivan began between ten and eleven in the morning. "A most tremendous cannonade ensued...Colonel Moultrie in command, with 344 regulars and a few volunteer militia, made a defense that would have done honor to experienced veterans." With firing being almost continuous until early evening, the battle finally ended around 9 pm. The British Force of 2,900 men lost over 200 killed and wounded and the American Force of 425 losses were placed at around 35 killed and wounded. The results of the victory at Sullivan’s Island were many-fold. For the Americans, it was their first decisive victory. Coming as it did only six days before the final adoption of the Declaration of Independence, it added strength to those magnificent words of Thomas Jefferson. For South Carolina, it produced a confidence in the government led by John Rutledge and forestalled another British effort to take Charleston for over three years. More importantly to both South Carolina and the new nation, this daring feat against odds fired the imagination of its citizens. Here was their model for future triumph. It was here, in a day-long battle, that a gallant and spirited band defeated in desperate conflict an overwhelming naval and military force and having utterly whipped them, drove them from their shores. For the new nation, pride in the victory was unbounded. The Virginia Gazette cheered the South Carolinians: "General ‘Lighthorse’ Harry Lee and our brave friends in SOUTH CAROLINA ! HUZZA!" For the British the results were humiliating. The folly was incredible and at home in Britain, they became the target of vicious satire. Fort Sullivan (Ft. Moultrie) later became the site of Ft. Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861.
On 1 July 1776, Sgt. John McDowell and William McDowell’s regiment, the 2nd South Carolina, was presented a pair of silk colors by Mrs. Bernard Elliott. The Colors were "an elegant pair of colors...one of fine blue silk, the other of a fine red silk, richly embroidered." On 25 August 1778, Private John McDowell was carried on the muster roster of the Grenadier Company of the 2nd South Carolina Regt. under the command of Col. Isaac Motte with his second enlistment date recorded as 16 June 1778. On 9 October 1779, the blue colors were lost in the Battle of Spring Hill Redoubt. Four color bearers were lost in the action. A Captain in the Royal American Regiment wrote that "at the assault on Spring Hill redoubt, Lieutenant Bush being wounded handed the blue color to Sergeant Jasper. Jasper, who had already received a bullet, was then mortally wounded, but returned the color to Lt. Bush who the next minute fell, yet even in the moment of death attempted to protect the flag that was afterwards found beneath him. "No one could have done more, and the color hallowed by the blood of (Lt.) Bush and (Sgt.) Jasper, deserves to deposited under a consecrated roof". The blue color was for many years at the museum of the British 60th Regiment, The King’s Royal Rifle Corps, at Winchester, England. After the British had captured Charleston in 1780, Col. Marion and a band of these irregulars roamed the coastal marsh country, raiding enemy outposts and disrupting British and Loyalist activity. When Charleston, South Carolina, surrendered 12 May 1780, the British captured most of the Continental troops in the South. Additional large losses occurred later in the summer with Patriot defeats at Waxhaws, South Carolina, May 29th, and Camden, South Carolina, August 16th. Only Patriot militia remained to oppose a British move through North Carolina into Virginia, America's largest colony. Victory for Royal troops and an end to talk of independence seemed near.
Private Thomas McDowell of South Carolina, served in "the Gamecock" General Thomas Sumter’s brigade of South Carolina as a member of Lt. Col. William Polk’s "Light Dragoons" in Captain Nathanial M. Martin’s company. When the British won control of South Carolina in 1780, Gen. Sumter, Col. Francis Marion, and other partisan fighters kept the rebel cause alive south of Virginia until the victory at Yorktown a year later.
In 1783, Col. Judge Samuel McDowell of Virginia moved his family to Fayette County, Kentucky, and later to Harrodsburg. Samuel McDowell had received nearly 12,000 acres in land grants as a result of his service. In Kentucky (then part of Virginia) with Samuel were his wife (Mary McClung McDowell) and nine of their children. Two of his daughters remained in Virginia. He served on the bench until shortly before his death at the Kentucky home of his son Joseph. He had been a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1773. Samuel was appointed to the first District Court ever held in Kentucky, 3 March 1783 and was President of the convention which was called to frame the constitution for the state of Kentucky on 19 April 1792. As a judge in the 1st District Court in Kentucky, Judge McDowell presided over nine conventions including the Constitutional Convention of Kentucky. Samuel sent a copy of the new constitution two weeks before it's framing to President George Washington and received this reply:
(To) Col. Samuel McDowell, Kentucky
20 October 1792
Your letter of the 6th of April, enclosing a copy of the Constitution formed for the State of Kentucky, did not get to my hands ‘till I was about leaving this place to go to Mount Vernon, and I embrace the earliest opportunity, after my return to the seat of Government to acknowledge the receipt of it, and to thank you for the transmission.
I am, Sir, with esteem,
(President) Geo. Washington
At the age of 81, old Col. Samuel rode horseback from Danville to Nashville to represent the Presbytery in a synodical convention, traveling on an average of 40 miles per day. While back in Virginia, Samuel had taken in his nephew James McDowell (b. 1756) at the age of 16. James was the son of his brother Capt. James McDowell who died in 1772. As a surveyor in Kentucky with his cousin Thomas Lewis, James helped lay out the township of Danville, Kentucky. Judge Samuel McDowell organized the Danville Political Club that shaped the future of the young state of Kentucky. He died in 1817 at the age of 84. His son Dr. Ephraim McDowell studied medicine with Dr. Humphreys in Staunton, Virginia and completed his advanced medical studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1795, Dr. Ephraim McDowell (b. 1771 in Rockbridge Co., Virginia. d. 1830 in Kentucky) moved to North Carolina. He was an eminent Surgeon that later moved to Kentucky. He pioneered methods in abdominal surgery. Dr. Ephraim performed the first ovarian surgery in America in 1809. A statue of Dr. Ephraim McDowell stands in passageway of the U.S. Senate in our nation’s capitol.
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