The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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the steps of the Court House to the people.*

        * Johnson's "Traditions and Reminiscences of the American Revolution, 77.

We propose to continue his biography from that time.

        By the Provincial Congress, which met at Halifax, April 4, 1776, the State was placed on a war footing; Thomas Polk was elected Colonel of the 4th Regiment in the Continental service, with James Thackston as Lieutenant Colonel, and William Davidson as Major. Tradition as well as history is silent as to the military services of Colonel Polk, during the exciting scenes of Gates' advance and defeat, through this part of the State; when Lord Cornwallis advanced, flushed with the victory at the battle of Camden, fought August 16, 1780, over Gates, to Charlotte, hundreds who were true patriots accepted protection for they saw no alternative but that, or the ruin of their families and destruction of their substance.

        Among Gates' papers in the New York Historical Society is the following:

        "From a number of suspicious circumstances respecting the conduct and behavior of Colonel Thomas Polk, Commissary of Provisions for the Continental Troops, it is our opinion that the said Colonel Polk should be ordered to Salisbury, to answer for his conduct, and that the persons of Duncan Ochiltree, and William McAferty, be likewise brought under guard to Salisbury. Given unanimously as our opinion this November 12, 1780.



* Lossing II, 624.
This was doubtless produced by the panic which followed the defeat of Gates (in the August previous) while Gates was flying with speed before the British forces. That whatever "suspicious circumstances respecting the conduct of and behavior of Colonel Thomas Polk" may have excited in the distempered mind of General Gates and others, history shows no record of any investigation or condemnation of his conduct, or any condemnation of his course, public or private, and that any distrust of the loyalty of Colonel Polk, was not the opinion of General Gates, and made no impression on his mind, is shown by the following letter, written soon after he took command at Charlotte, North Carolina:

"CAMP CHARLOTTE, Dec. 15, 1780.


        SIR--I find it will be impossible to leave camp as early as I intended, as Colonel Kosciusko has made no report yet, respecting a position on the Pedee.

        "I must therefore beg you to continue the daily supplies of the Army and keep in readiness three days provisions beforehand. I have just received some intelligence from General Nash and from Congress, which makes me wish to see you. I am &c.,


        This letter proves the confidence which the commanding General had in the energy and patriotism of Colonel Polk, who owned extensive mills near Charlotte and stores in the town.

        He had been appointed Commissary of Provisions for the Continental Troops in this region, that had been stripped to destitution by an invading army, and this was a position at once perplexing, arduous and ungracious. In a letter, the original I have in my possession, he resigned the irksome office.

"CHARLOTTE, 13th Dec., 1780.

        On my Informing General Greene of my resignation, he maid menshun of Col. Willm. Davie, which I think will do exceeding well, will be always in Camp; I think him clever in business. If it should meet your approbation I should be happy in releasment.

I am, Sir, with great respect,

To the Hon.
B'd of War

Your humble serv't,


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