Note: The three men listed below are direct ancestors of my wife and our children.
Durrett and Campbell have been used to support numerous successful applications
for membership in DAR, the Daughters of the American Revolution.
William Durrett was born November 24, 1748 in Caroline County,
Virginia to Richard and Sarah Durrett. He married Abigail Terrell
in Caroline County in 1770. On June 12, 1778, William Durrett took
the officer’s oath and assumed the rank of captain with the Caroline
County militia. His brother, Richard Durrett, was sworn in on the
same day as a lieutenant in the militia.
Whitaker Campbell was born about 1727 in King and Queen County. He
married Jane Hill in 1760 and fathered eight children. Served in
the War of the Revolution as a captain with the Virginia militia
from King and Queen County. Records document that Campbell also
actively took part in the recruiting effort and contributed rye and
beef to commissary supplies for the Continental Army.
Enoch’s grandson, Robinson Pearson (Union Civil War officer), moved
to Texas after Enoch passed away. In 1882 in Taylor, Texas, Robinson’s
daugher Julia married Eugene Sewell Durrett. Eugene was the son of
Henry Campbell Durrett (Union Civil War officer) and the great-great
grandson of Captain William Durrett (American Revolutionary War).
The following relates to both Captain Durrett and Captain Campbell
In late July 1778, Washington transferred most of the Virginia Line
(the Continental Regulars) from New Jersey south to the Carolinas.
Washington sent General Peter Muhlenberg, formerly of the Virginia Line,
back to Virginia to organize the defense of Virginia with the various
When the British took Charleston in May 1780, they took prisoner
most of the Virginia Line that Washington had sent south. Continental
authorities subsequently sent large numbers of Virginia militia south as
there was no British activity in Virginia.
Caroline County militia under Captain James Johnson served under
General Gates at Camden. The British won a major victory in the
Battle of Camden, fought on August 16, 1780 in South Carolina. British
regulars easily routed the militia.
On October 7, 1780, Loyalist militia clashed with Patriot militia near
the state border between North and South Carolina. Ten companies of
Virginia militia, numbering about four hundred men, took part in the
battle. The Patriots won a resounding victory. King’s Mountain, after a
series of defeats, provided a much-needed boost to Patriot morale.
The British remained formidable in South Carolina. In January 1781,
Cornwallis sent Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton west upon hearing that
Morgan’s army of Continentals and militia was going to attack the
important British fort at Ninety-Six. Tarleton led some of the best of
Cornwallis’ troops. Morgan withdrew for a time then turned to fight
at Cowpens. Four companies of Virginia militia were with Morgan and
accounted well for themselves, firing a deadly volley into advancing
British troops, which were expecting the militia to run. Morgan caught
the overconfident Tarleton in a classic double envelopment and
destroyed the British force.
For the next two months, Cornwallis’ main force pursued Nathaniel
Greene’s army into and across North Carolina. As Greene approached
the Virginia state line, large numbers of Virginia militia rallied to his
side. There were ten companies of Virginia militia, including some
from Caroline County. The two armies fought on March 15, 1781.
The British won the ground and took American cannon, but at the cost
of significant casualties. Cornwallis then proceeded into his ill-fated
Virginia had essentially escaped most of the war that had ravaged much
of the rest of the colonies. In early 1781, there were no Continental
troops in Virginia, only two corps of Virginia militia. Veteran soldier
Baron von Steuben had overall command. The British launched an
invasion up the James River in April 1781. Von Steuben sent Muhlberg’s
Militia Corp to defend Petersburg, which was a major Patriot supply
center. One thousand two hundred Virginia militiamen faced a force
of British regulars twice their number. The Virginians inflicted heavy
casualties and withdrew in orderly fashion, covering each other
and punishing the British that pressed them. The militia proved
themselves in a three-hour battle against twice their number. The
Americans withdrew over a single bridge and pulled the planks to
cover their retreat. The Americans gained time to remove most of the
supplies. When the British attempted to move on Richmond, American
reinforcements arrived to force him back.
Cornwallis moved up from the south into Virginia and took a position
at Yorktown on south bank of the James River and across the James on
the north bank at Gloucester Point. He felt sure the British fleet could
support him as he awaited Clinton’s army from New York City. A French
naval victory dramatically altered the situation. Washington moved his
army down from New York and the Americans with overwhelming force
There was a sizeable number of Virginia militia, well over three
thousand in number. They shadowed the British movements and
skirmished with them as they consolidated at Yorktown.
It is clear that the Caroline County militia were present at Yorktown.
Lt. Colonel Anthony Thornton commanded the Caroline County militia
at Yorktown. As part of Weeden’s Brigade of Virginia militia, fifteen-
hundred men strong, the Caroline County militia were in position
opposite the British fortifications at Gloucester Point. They helped
repulse the last desperate attempt by the British to breakout of the siege
of Yorktown. The infamous British commander, Banastre Tarleton, led
the attack for the British.
In all likelihood, both Captain Richard Durrett and Captain Whitaker
Campbell were present at Yorktown. Cornwallis’ surrender of some
seven thousand soldiers led to American independence.
After the war:
Captain William Durrett returned to Caroline County. His obituary
reads: "Died on the 25ult Capt. Wm. Durrett of Caroline Co. He was
amusing himself in the fields fowling when he suddenly fell from his
horse and expired without a groan. He leaves a wife & a number of
children". Va. Herald issue of 10 Feb 1804.
Captain Whitaker Campbell died in 1814 at the age of eighty-seven
years. An 1813 observer wrote of Campbell that he “ … was a helpless
rheumatic in a rolling chair, age 85, and living on the Campbell home in
King and Queen, Virginia.” The old Campbell manor was about a third
of a mile south of Bruington village on the east side of what is now State
Highway 14 and not far from present-day Woodstock.
A 19th century note by a descendant stated: “ … buried at the old
Campbell place near Bruington, King and Queen County. At this place
are the sunken shapes of three graves, where are buried Captain
Whitaker Campbell …”.
Descendants of both Captain Durrett and Captain Campbell migrated
to Kentucky at the beginning of the 19th century. The granddaughter
of Whitaker Campbell married the grandson of William Durrett in
Hopkinsville in 1835.
ENOCH “BLACKSMITH” PEARSON
Enoch descended from early English, who heard George Fox preach,
endured persecution and immigrated to William Penn’s new colony
in America in 1683. He was born on August 4, 1760 in Delaware
County, Pennsylvania, the last of his parents’ children to be born in
Pennsylvania. Enoch’s father was one of four brothers who moved
to South Carolina in about 1768. They became part of the Bush River
Monthly Meeting in Newberry County. The nearby town of Ninety-Six
became the capital city of the Ninety-Six District when it was
established in July 1769. Ninety-Six would play an important role
during the American Revolution.
There is documentation that Enoch “Blacksmith” Pearson joined
the Patriot cause in the Revolution and served with Francis Marion,
the Swamp Fox, whose guerrilla tactics thwarted British military
efforts. Marion’s men were involved in numerous raids, skirmishes
and running fights with British and Loyalist units and kept alive the
flicker of Patriot hopes in the dark times of the summer and fall of 1780,
following the British capture of Charleston and the disastrous American
defeat at Camden. Family lore says that Enoch was carrying dispatches
and, thus, was present at the Battle of Kings Mountain in October. In
that battle, Carolina Patriots soundly defeated Carolina Loyalists in what
many consider a turning point of the war in the South. However, bitter
fighting continued in the Carolinas until the end of 1782.
The American Revolution was as much a civil war as the conflict that
ripped the nation apart from 1861-1865. Enoch’s two brothers were
Loyalists and died in American hands after being taken prisoner.
Enoch’s older sister Margery lost her husband, Colonel Moses
Buffington of the Loyalist militia, in the war. He died of wounds
sustained in the fierce fighting, which took place in South Carolina long
after the decisive American victory at Yorktown.
Enoch married Hannah Buffington after the war. Hannah lost Moses
and two other brothers, all Loyalists, in the War for Independence.
In 1804, the entire Bush River Quaker community left South Carolina
in protest of slavery and traveled over 500 miles north to the new
Northwest Territory. An estimated two thousand Friends left South
Carolina. The region they settled became Miami Township, Ohio.
Enoch Pearson died in 1850 in Miami County, Ohio