The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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        GENERAL JESSE SPEIGHT, born September 22, 1795, died 1847, was a native of Greene County. He was the son of Rev. Seth Speight, a Methodist preacher. His education was not thorough, but his career in all the vicissitudes of public life, proves that books are not alone indispensible for success. He possessed great shrewdness of character, ambition, and untiring perseverance, united to a warm and generous heart, to these qualities were added a commanding and comely person, (he was the tallest man I ever saw.) He entered the House of Commons when in the prime of life, (the twenty-seventh year of his age,) the next year, 1823, he was elected senator in the legislature, of which he was speaker in 1828, and in this be continued until 1829, when he was elected a member of the Twenty-first Congress, 1837, and served until the Twenty-fourth Congress; then he declined a re-election, and removed to Columbus, Mississippi.

        He here entered again the political arena, with brilliant success. He was sent to the legislature, elected speaker, and in 1844 was made senator in congress, which post he occupied at the time of his death: this occurred at Columbus, May 1, 1847.

        Without any extraordinary endowments of mind, or advantages of liberal education, his brilliant success was due to his simple-hearted honesty, his energy of character and his devotion to the principles of the constitution.

        Joseph Dixon was born in Greene County April 29, 1828, and represented the county in the legislature in 1868. On the death of David Heaton, (who died June 25, 1870,) Mr. Dixon was elected to serve the unexpired term in the Forty-first Congress, 1869,-'71.


        IN this county one of the most important battles of the revolution was fought, March 15, 1780, important in its consequences, for it formed a link in the chain of events that led to the final independence of our country.

        At this time the English authority was supreme in the south. Georgia was in their undisputed power, Charleston had surrendered, Gates had been defeated at Camden, (1780) and Lord Cornwallis advanced in "all the pride, pomp and circumstance of glorious war," and had taken position at Charlotte; here he held his headquarters. He had dispatched an experienced and approved officer with a strong force to intimidate and subdue the people of western Carolina. These were met at the King's Mountain, October 7, 1780, and defeated, then came the glorious victory of the Cowpens, of Morgan over Tarleton, with the flower of the British army, (January 17, 1781,) these, with the battle of Guilford, in March, all presaged the final defeat and surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781. This triad of victories sealed the fate of the royal power of England in America, for had either terminated differently, different, perhaps, had been the fate of our country's liberty.

        An official report of the battle of Guilford, by Lord Cornwallis, and also by General Greene, have been published, and will repay a
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