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AMERICAN REVOLUTION VETERANS

I thank God that America abounds in men, who are superior to all temptation, whom nothing can divert from a steady pursuit of the interest of their country, who are at once its ornament and safeguard … from them let us catch the divine enthusiasm; and feel, each for himself, the godlike pleasure of diffusing happiness on all around us; of delivering the oppressed from the iron grasp of tyranny; of changing the hoarse complaints and bitter moans of wretched slaves into those cheerful songs, which freedom and contentment must inspire.

John Hancock, March 5, 1774

Key dates:

April 19, 1775 - The War for Independence begins with the Battle of Lexington
July 4, 1776 - Colonial delegates sign the Declaration of Independence
October 19, 1781 - British General Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown, Virginia
December 14, 1782 - British forces evacuate Charleston, South Carolina
September 3, 1783 - United States and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Paris

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.

CAPTAIN WILLIAM DURRETT
1748 – 1850

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.



CAPTAIN WHITAKER CAMPBELL
1727 – 1814

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 “BLACKSMITH” PEARSON
1760 – 1850
served with Francis Marion’s partisan force in South Carolina

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 county militias.

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 campaign.

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 besieged Cornwallis.

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