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A History of The Middle
New River Settlements
and Contiguous Territory.

By David E. Johnston (1906).


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Chapter IV.  1775 - 1794  (Part 3)


On September 23, 1779, Mrs. Margaret Pauley and her husband, John Pauley, together with James Pauley, wife and child, Robert Wallace and wife and Brice Miller set out from the Greenbrier section to go to Kentucky.  They crossed New River at the Horse Ford near the mouth of Rich Creek and then down New River and up East River, which was the shortest route to Cumberland Gap.  Each of the men had his rifle.  The women on the horses, on which were packed what household plunder they could carry, were in front, the men in the rear driving the cattle.  About noon of the day referred to, and when the party had reached a point on East River about one mile below the mouth of Five Mile Fork thereof, supposed to have been near the upper end of the old farm of Captain William Smith, they were attacked by five Indians and a white man by the name of Morgan, who was in company with the Indians.  The first intimation that the party had of the presence of the savages, was the report of the discharge of a gun.  The women, Mrs. John and James Pauley, were knocked from their horses by the Indians with their clubs, Wallace and the two children were killed and scalped, and John Pauley though fatally wounded, escaped and succeeded in reaching Wood's Fort on rich Creek, where he died in a short time.  The Indians took Mrs. John and James Pauley prisoners, and on leaving the scene of their atrocities, went up East River to the mouth of the Five Mile Fork, and thence up the same to the head, across the Bluestone and on to the Ohio, and to the Indian towns on the Miami.  There the two women and the little boy of Margaret Pauley, born shortly after she reached the Indian towns remained prisoners for about two years.  Finally Mrs. James Pauley escaped, and Margaret and her child shortly after this were ransomed.  Mrs. Pauley's maiden name was Handley.  After the return of Margaret Pauley she married a Mr. Erskine, and by whom she had a daughter who married Hugh Caperton, who became a distinguished man, and who was the father of the late United States Senator Allen T. Caperton, of Monroe County.  Adam Caperton, the father of the said Hugh, was killed in a battle with the Indians at Little Mountain, or Estill's defeat, near where Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, is now situated.  Captain Estill and six of his men were killed, and seventeen of the Indians were killed.  This battle was fought on the 22nd day of March, 1782.

At the date of the attack on the Pauley party in September, 1779, no settlements had been made along the East River, in fact none existed between Wood's Fort on Rich Creek and that of Thomas Ingles in Wright's Valley.  The route being traveled by the Pauley party was along the hunters' trail leading from New River up East River by the site of the present city of Bluefield in Mercer County, and across the Bluestone-Clinch divide to the Clinch, down the same and on by way of Powell's River to Cumberland Gap.  This was the route usually pursued by emigrants from the Greenbrier-New River section to Kentucky.

John Toney settled at the mouth of East River in the year of 1780, and gave to his place the name of Montreal and later when the line of the Norfolk & Western Railroad was being constructed, the contractors engaged in that part of the work at the mouth of East River, or their employees called it, "Hell's Gate."    It is now known as Glenlyn.

In the year of 1780, or 1781 a family by the name of Christain settled on the farm formerly owned by Mr. John L. Woolwine on East River, about two mile above the mouth thereof, and it was this family, or from it that the name of "Christian's Ridge," was given to the high ridge land lying north of the place of the settlement.

John Goolman Davidson, an Irishman, born in Dublin, Ireland, a cooper by trade, from which he was generally called and known as "Cooper Davidson,"    came with his family from that part of the Valley of Virginia now known as Rockbridge County, and with him came Richard Bailey and his family, from the Blackwater section, then in Bedford, now in Franklin County, Virginia, and settled in the year of 1780 at the Beaver Pond Spring, a branch of Bluestone, now in Mercer County.  A fort was built which was called and known as the "Davidson-Bailey Fort," the marks of the foundation of which may yet be seen near the residence of Mr. Harvey Bailey just west of the Beaver Pond Creek.  Both Davidson and Bailey had considerable families, the latter had eight sons and two daughters.  Richard Bailey had been a soldier in the American army.  These men as well as their sons and daughters, were a brave and courageous people, and maintained their position on the border at the settlement they had made from the day they came in 1780, until the close of the Indian wars in 1795.    Often in battles with the Indians, frequently compelled to flee for their lives, and shut themselves up in their strong quarters, and finally loosing Mr. Davidson, whose tragic and brutal murder by the savages will be hereinafter related.  At the time of the settlement at Beaver Pond Spring by Davidson and Bailey, their nearest neighbors, were Captain James Moore in Abb's Valley, some twelve miles away, Mitchell Clay on Clover bottom, about the same distance, a man by the name of Compton on Clear fork of Wolf Creek, about  eight miles away, and a man by the name of Wright at a place now called Springville, on the head of the Bluestone about eight miles away.

The American army under Washington, spent the winter of 1779-80 at Morristown New Jersey, not only suffering from severe cold, but even from lack of food.    The British General Clinton was determined to capture Charleston, South Carolina, and to that end toward the close of the year 1779, he embarked from New York with 7,500 men, leaving Knyphausen in command of the city with a small force, for Washington had sent the bulk of his troops south, and consequently gave the enemy little trouble in the northern department.  The British expedition reached Charleston near the close of January, 1780.  General Benjamin Lincoln was in command of the Continental troops at Charleston and in the vicinity thereof.  On May5th, 1780, Fort Moultrie was surrendered to the British, and on the 12th of May, General Lincoln surrendered  the city of Charleston and his army numbering 5,000 to be made prisoners of war.  This capitulation on the part of Lincoln left the entire south virtually at the mercy of the British.

General Horatio Gates had been placed in command of the American army in the southern department and marched rapidly southward until he reached Camden, South Carolina, where on the 16th of August he met the British army under Lords Rawdon and Cornwallis, and a fierce conflict ensued, in which the American army was decisively defeated.  Immediately following organized resistance in the south, American rule ended.  General Gates made his way to Charlotte, North Carolina where he was superseded by General Nathaniel Greene, one of the best officers and fighters in the American service.  The march of the British army northward into North Carolina not only encouraged the loyalists in the southern part of the state but they became very much emboldened in the northern and western part of the state as well as in the upper New River region in Virginia.

In the latter part of the summer or in the early part of the autumn of 1780 there was a general tory uprising in Surry County, North Carolina, which was so formidable in its character as to alarm the friends of the American cause; who not only appealed to the American  patriots in North Carolina, but in Virginia as well, for help.  This was truly the crucial period in this great conflict, the American cause seeming to be at its lowest ebb.  The western borders were harassed by the Indians.    The country north and east of New Jersey was practically in the hands of the British.  General Arnold had betrayed the American cause and agreed to surrender West Point to the enemies of America.  The great body of the American army had been decisively defeated at Camden.  The tories, the friends of the King, were in high glee and everything looked as if the American cause was lost.  But a brighter day was near at hand, and the tide of affairs was to turn in favor of the Americans.

Colonel Martin Armstrong, who was in command of the military district in and around Salem, North Carolina, sent his small son, Thomas T. Armstrong, then but little above twelve years of age, with an appeal for help to Major Joseph Cloyd, whose residence was on Back Creek, now in Pulaski County.  To avoid suspicion, and to prevent his son from being intercepted, knowing that he had to pass the tory settlements to reach Major Cloyd, he dressed him in a full tory suit, and the manly and brave little fellow carried the message safely to Major Cloyd (this incident was related to the author by Mrs. Colonel Napoleon D. French, the grand-daughter of Colonel Martin Armstrong, and the daughter of Colonel Thomas T. Armstrong, the lad who carried the message.)

Joseph Cloyd was the Major of the Montgomery County militia of which William Preston was the Colonel and Commandant.  Cloyd was directed to raise three companies of horsemen forthwith and to proceed to Surry County, North Carolina, and to aid in suppressing the tories.

Among the companies detailed for this service, was one commanded by Captain George Pearis, another by Captain Bryant, but the author has been unable to ascertain the name of the captain who commanded the remaining company.  General Jethro Sumner in a letter to General Gates, dated Camp McGoon's Creek, October 4, 1780, says "That he encloses a copy of the letter of Colonel William Preston, of Botetourt, Virginia, dated the 18th day of September, 1780, stating that a body of horsemen is in that section moving against the tories on the Yadkin."  General Sumner seemed not to have been aware of the presence of the Virginia troops in that neighborhood, except through the letter of Colonel Preston, and a conversation had by him with Colonel Armstrong.  In his letter General Sumner refers to the forks of the Yadkin, and to the Shallow ford thereof, and states that he suspects the latter point to be the object of the enemy.  This letter also refers to a conversation in which Colonel Armstrong informs him of the approach of three troops of horsemen from Virginia.  General William Smallwood, writes to General Gates, (Colonial records in Library of Congress,)    from Moravian town, now Salem, under date of October 16,1780, and states, "But upon return of my scouts last evening they informed me that the enemy had attempted to cross the Shallow ford the day before, 17th day of October, 1780, but they were attacked by Major Cloyd with one hundred and sixty of the Virginia and Carolina militia, and that fifteen of the tories were found dead and four wounded. (Note: The tory army numbered 310 and was commanded by Colonel Gideon and Captain Hezakiah Wright.--"Draper's Heroes of King's Mountain, page 438.")

Captain Pearis received in this battle a very severe wound in the shoulder, which disabled him for further military duty.  In this battle he killed with his own sword, a man by the name of Burke, his own cousin, from whom he took his sword and this with his own sword together with his uniform with the bullet hole in the shoulder thereof, were preserved in the family until the burning of Princeton, where the same were destroyed together with the house of Mrs. Louisa A. Pearis, where they had been left for preservation.  These men under Major Cloyd, were minute or emergency men, and were called out for only three months service, and returned to their homes about the first of January, 1781.  Thomas Farley, who was a member of Captain Pearis' company, in his sworn application made before the County Court of Giles County in 1832, for a pension, states his enlistment was with Captain Pearis on the first of October, 1780, and gives the details of the march under Major Cloyd to the Shallow ford of the Yadkin, and of the battle there, and that his captain, Pearis, was wounded in the battle and that he nursed him after he was wounded.

Captain Henry Patton seems to have succeeded Pearis in command of the company which he led to the battle of the Shallow ford of the Yadkin.

General Cornwallis with the British was advancing into the very center of North Carolina, and he had pushed out Major Patrick Ferguson, one of his lieutenants, toward the western mountains of North Carolina, where he could rally and get together the tories of that section.  Ferguson had heard of the "Over-Mountain or Backwater men" who occupied the territory on the head waters of the Holstein, Clinch and the Watauga, and he determined to bring them to terms if possible.  If they would not go to him and surrender, he would march across the mountain and destroy them.  Ferguson then had in his custody a prisoner by the name Samuel Philips with whom he agreed if he would carry a message from him to Generals Seviers and Shelby, two of the leaders of the Over-Mountain men, he would release him.  This message was, "that if they did not desist from their opposition to the British arms, that he would hang their leaders, and lay their county waste with fire and sword."  Philips true to his word crossed the mountains, and delivered the message entrusted to him to Shelby at King's Meadows, now Bristol, Virginia.  Shelby was not a man to be alarmed by such threats, conscious that the Over-Mountain  or Back-water men were an equal match for Ferguson's corps.  Shelby mounted his horse, and rode rapidly some forty miles to the Nollichucky in search of John Sevier, who was not at home but at Jonesboro, attending the horse races.  Shelby pushed on until he found him, and it is said that they went aside, and sat down upon a log and talked over the situation fully, and determined that the better plan was to rally the Over-mountain men both in Virginia and North Carolina, cross the mountains, and destroy Ferguson and his army.

By agreement between Shelby and Sevier, the latter was to rally the men of Washington County, North Carolina, and the former those of Sullivan County, and who was also to communicate and interest Colonel William Campbell, of Washington County,Virginia.    Sycamore Ford on the Watauga, about three miles below the present town of Elizabethtown, was agreed upon as the place, and the 25th of September as the time for the rendezvous of these troops.  Having succeeded in getting together one thousand men, they assembled as agreed upon at the time and place.

This was the most remarkable gathering of Backwoodsmen that had ever occurred on the western border.  Here was a body of men living as it were, beyond the confines of civilization, without law, being a law unto themselves, about to enter into a great campaign, and fight a great battle, not for revenge, plunder or booty, impelled only by their patriotism.  No executive authority had commanded them to assemble, they simply obeyed the commands of their local officers.  They marched rapidly across the mountains, passing through Gillespie's gap in Blue Ridge, and on to the waters flowing south and eastward; and on the seventh day of October attacked the British forces under Ferguson at King's Mountain, in South Carolina, and won in less than an hour, a most decisive victory, which gave cheer and encouragement to the American cause, and made patriotic hearts throughout the land leap for joy.  This was the turning point in the American revolution.  These incidents are embodied herein because a part of the men who fought this battle on the American side were Montgomery County men, from the headwaters of the Bluestone and the Clinch.  Montgomery County at that time reached westward to the west end of Morris' Knob, some eight miles beyond the present Court House of Tazewell County.

Captain James Moore, from Abb's Valley, the Peery's and others from the upper waters of the Clinch, went with Lieutenant Reece Bowen's company, which belonged to Campbell's Washington County regiment.  Moore was a lieutenant in Bowen's company, and when entering into the battle, hearing the British bugle sound charge, directed his men to dismount and give it to them Indian fashion--that is, take trees.

The Americans in this battle captured more than six hundred prisoners, and brought them across the mountains.  General Gates, on October 17, 1780, wrote Colonel William Preston to prepare a stockade at Fort Chiswell in which to confine these prisoners, but Colonel Preston replied, "that it was not a safe place; that Montgomery County contained more tories than any other county in Virginia."  A full, complete and connected history of the battle of King's Mountain, will be found in Draper's "Heroes of King's Mountain."

On the 17th day of January, 1781, was fought the battle of the Cowpens, in which General Morgan defeated the British under Tarleton, the latter being utterly routed and pursued for twenty miles.  The Americans loss was but seventy-two killed and wounded, while that of the British was more than three hundred, with five hundred prisoners, and an immense amount of supplies.  This victory was a crushing one, and caused considerable consternation in the camp of Cornwallis, when the news reached him.    Morgan crossed the Broad River with his prisoners, intending to make his way to Virginia; Cornwallis in the meantime started out in pursuit.  He was confident of heading off the patriot army at the fords of the Catawba, but reached there two hours after Morgan had crossed.  It was late in the afternoon when he reached the river, and he waited until morning to find that the fox had gone.  A heavy rain had fallen and so raised the stream as to prevent the British commander from crossing for several hours, during which Morgan marched rapidly, reached and crossed the Yadkin, where General Greene joined him, and left his troops at Cheraw under the command of General Huger.    Greene having learned from Morgan that Cornwallis was in pursuit, he sent orders to Huger to unite with Morgan at Salisbury or Charlotte.  General Greene was making for Virginia, and Cornwallis chased him for two hundred miles.  The pursuer had been held several hours at the Catawba, but crossing at last he renewed the chase after Morgan, and reached the bank of the Yadkin February 3rd, as the Americans on the opposite side were forming in line to continue the march.  The Yadkin was rising rapidly, but the impatient Cornwallis had to linger until the next day while the Americans leisurely marched off unmolested.  They were joined at Guilford Court House by the troops from the Pedee, but being far inferior to their pursuers in number, they continued their retreat to the Dan, which was already rising, and on the 13th of February they crossed and entered Halifax County, Virginia.  When Cornwallis came again in view, he found himself again stopped by high water.  This turn of affairs disgusted him, and he wheeled about and marched back to Hillsboro, where he made his headquarters.   General Greene rested and recruited his army, which now aggregated about five thousand men, and he determined to join battle with Cornwallis.



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