The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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given him a second thought, and yet that spare frame was knit together with joints as flexible as a politican's principles, and muscles like bands of finely tempered steel; and through that solitary eye looked forth a spirit that no danger could appal, no adverse fortune subdue or dismay. A democrat of intensest dye he affected the roughest costume, and in an age when gentlemen never wore aught but "purple and fine linen," he clothed himself with homespun, woven on his plantation, and shoes made by his own negroes.

        He had organized a partizan force of Minute men, some four or five hundred strong, men who dwelt peaceably enough at home, until a runner notified them that Shepperd had work for them to do, when at the rendezvous would gather a band of rough but resolute men ready to execute any plan, however daring and hazardous, of their idolized chief.

        An English officer named Patton was then raiding through Orange and the adjoining counties, carrying terror and devastation with him. Born a gentleman and a soldier, and of superb physical development, he mocked at fear and utterly devoid of conscience, staunch in his loyalty to the king, and with a goodly scorn of American rebels, he showed no quarter; rapine, violence, and murder marked every step of his onward progress, and none were able to stay his course.

        Col. Shepperd and his troopers returning home after the disastrous battle of Briar Creek found Patton devastating the country, and riding rough-shod over the people. Plan after plan to capture him was devised, but Col. Patton was as wary a soldier as he was brutal as a man, and time and again he slipped through Shepperd's toils, and laughed him to scorn.

        Finally Shepperd was ordered on some expedition that withdrew his forces from the neighborhood, and Patton getting wind of it, came down into the lion's den, quartered at "Long Meadows" for a night and a day, and although treating Mrs. Shepperd with extreme courtesy, (for Patton, though absolutely without humanity to women as women never failed to treat a lady of his own rank with the most finished courtesy of manner) appropriated the Colonel's stock, provender, and plantation supplies like the free-booter that he was.

        Col. Shepperd returning one night to visit his wife, whom he passionately loved, discovered that Patton was in the neighborhood, and laid a plan to capture him.

        Summoning his immediate body-guard of twenty picked men, he stationed thirteen of them in an old deserted school house to lie in wait, while he and the others reconnoitered. Returned to the school house, what was his anger and astonishment to find the building "empty, swept and garnished," and a card tacked up by Col. Patton to tell the reason why.

        Patton also had been out reconnoitering, and came to the school house, where a pack of cards and jug of whiskey were helping the ambuscade to forget their duty. All the muskets were piled near the door, and their owners sitting cross-legged on the floor were deep in the mysteries of card playing, while the sentry lifted the jug to his head a time or so too often.

        Stepping lightly to the door, Col. Patton seized one of their own muskets, and levelling it at the absorbed card-players, cried out in his ringing voice of irresistable command: "Surrender to Col. Patton of his Majesty's forces, or I will shoot every man of you." Half drunk, wholly surprised, and with instinctive obedience of soldiers to a born commander, they at once surrendered. Still holding his musket at point blank range, Patton made one of the men advance and hand him the muskets one by one, stock foremost. Then he was required to tie his comrades, each man with his own halter, the horses were in turn secured to their masters,
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