The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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One of her sons fell most gallantly at the battle of the Rocky Mount, commanding a regiment, and another at Wright's Bluff; another daughter, Susan married Colonel Thomas Polk, on whom we have written.

        Susan Barnett, the subject of this sketch, was born in 1761; and her sister Mary was the first white child born between the two rivers, the Catawba and the Yadkin. She married Captain James Jack, of whom, and whose genealogy, a full and accurate account is given in the sketches of North Carolina by Dr. C. L. Hunter (1877).

        Captain Jack was the bearer of the Mecklenburg Declaration of May 20, 1775, to the Continental Congress at Philadelphia.

        Mrs. Smart was present at Charlotte on this glorious occasion; and many now alive have listened with great pleasure to her glowing and graphic accounts of the enthusiasm which pervaded the whole community. It was truly a day of "the throwing up of hats," many of which she stated, fell on the roof of the Court House.

        Many interesting incidents of the horrors of war, were narrated by her.

        After the surrender of General Lincoln to Sir Henry Clinton at Charleston (May 12, 1780), Tarleton was sent by Lord Cornwallis to repel troops approaching Charleston, under Colonel Buford. These were surprised at Waxhaw and mercilessly sabred. In this bloody affair Captain John Stokes was severely wounded, losing one of his arms. General Sumter narrowly escaped capture at another point. He fled, however, and came to her father's home.

        When asked how the defeat happened, Sumter said: "It was a complete surprise. The enemy crossed the creek and before we knew of their presence, was in the middle of our camp. I was in the marque asleep at the time, and was carried out in the rear of the tent, mounted a horse and escaped with the loss of my hat and plume."

        There were many others who fled to Charlotte. Among them a lad, who appeared much jaded; his face careworn and sunburnt. She asked him where he was from. He replied, "the Waxhaws."

        "Do yo know Major Crawford?"

        "To be sure I do, he is my uncle. Who are you?"

        "I am Andrew Jackson."

        "What is the news about the British?"

        "They are on their way to Charlotte."

        "And what have you been doing down there?"

        "We are popping them occasionally."

        His long and slender face was then lit up with a smile, and with grace and ease, he bid her good-morning.

        When the British came, they plundered the house and then burned it.

        Shortly before they left Charlotte, an express was captured by the Whigs, from Lord Cornwallis to Camden. His Lordship wrote that "he was going to leave Charlotte, for its inhabitants were so inimical that they killed his men from every bush, in cold blood, while engaged in collecting forage for his army."

        Miss Susan Barnett married in 1775, George W. Smart, who died in May, 1809. The house she occupied for years was built by him. She had been always in the habit of entertaining travellers, as she lived on the public road. William H. Crawford always stopped at her house on his way to and from Washington, and was highly esteemed by her. She used to say "I have rarely been from home, but I have known well, two of our Presidents, "Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk. Little Jimmy Polk used to pass along this road often to his school; barefooted, with his breeches rolled up to his knees. He was a mighty bashful little fellow."

        Many of the connections of Aunt Susan Smart still reside in this region. One of them, George W. Smart, represented the county in the Legislature in 1808.*

        * Much in this is gathered from an article in the "Chester Palmetto Standard," October 1, 1851, signed B. G. S.

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