The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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the same proclamation, he denounced the intended meeting of the Provincial Congress at Hillsboro, on August 20, 1775.

        The Provincial Congress held a second session at New Berne on April 4, 1775, in defiance of this proclamation, and proceeded to place the State under military organization.

        Colonel Ashe and his brother-in-law, Colonel Moore, were rival candidates for the command of the 1st Regiment. To the command Colonel Moore was elected, with Francis Nash as Lieutenant Colonel and Thomas Clark as Major.

        Of the 2d Regiment, Robert Howe was elected Colonel, with Alexander Martin as Lieutenant Colonel, and John Patton as Major.

        With patriotism and unabated zeal, Colonel Ashe returned home and raised a regiment at his own expense, on a pledge of his estate. So enthusiastic was the feeling, that his recruits unhesitatingly received the promissory notes of Colonel Ashe in lieu of pay.

        This Congress (at Hillsboro, August 20, 1775) also substituted a form of civil rule (the Governor having fled) administered through

  • I. A Provincial Congress.
  • II. District Committees of Safety.
  • III. County and Town Committees.

        By the Provincial Congress that assembled at Halifax on April 4, 1776, Colonel Ashe was promoted to the rank of a Brigadier General, and took immediate command of the detachments ordered for General Moore.

        In 1779 he marched to the defense of Georgia, and took post at Briar Creek. Here, on March 3, 1779, he was surprised and defeated by a superior force of British Regulars.

        At the request of General Ashe, General Lincoln ordered a Court Martial to examine into this unhappy affair.

        The Court Martial decided that "General Ashe did not take all the necessary precautions which he ought to have done, to secure his camp, and to obtain timely intelligence of the movements, and approach of the enemy. But they entirely acquit him of every imputation or a want of personal courage, and that he remained as long on the field, as prudence and duty required."*

        * A full account of this Court is to be found in Moultrie.

        In 1781, General Ashe returned to his residence at Rocky Point, broken down in body and mind, by misfortune and disease. Wilmington was at this time a British Post, commanded by Major Craig, (afterward Sir James Craig) and Ashe was obliged to conceal himself in the recesses of Burgaw Swamp, and only visit his family by stealth.

        He was betrayed to Major Craig by Manuel, his confidential servant. A party of Dragoons was sent to capture him. In his attempt to escape, he was shot in the leg, and captured. He was taken as a prisoner to Wilmington and finally paroled. He died October, 1781, at the house of Colonel John Sampson, in Sampson county, on his way to the back country where he was removing his family.

        General Ashe was five feet, ten inches in height, of olive complexion, brown hair, dark hazel eyes, aquiline nose; features clear and well defined, figure not large but rather slender, and graceful in his carriage.

        He married Rebecca, the daughter of General Maurice Moore, sister of General James and Judge Maurice Moore, by which union he had seven children, one of whom, Mary, married Mr. Alston of South Carolina, whose son Joseph was the Governor of South Carolina (1812-14) and who married Theodosia, the only daughter of Aaron Burr.

        Another daughter of General Ashe, Elizabeth, married Hon. William H. Hill, who represented the Wilmington district in Congress, from 1799 to 1803. He was the son of William Hill, the ancestor of the distinguished family of that name on the Cape Fear. William Hill, the father, was a native of Boston; a graduate of Harvard in 1756, came to North Carolina on account of his health and settled at Brunswick where he taught school.
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