The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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General McKay died very suddenly at Goldsboro in 1853.

        In closing our sketches of "The memories of fifty years or more," as regards the men of Bladen County, we should do injustice to the integrity of history and to merit and virtue to pass over the name of Thomas David McDowell, one of the purest men in public and private life that I ever knew.

        He was born in Bladen County, the son of Dr. Alexander McDowell, on the 4th of January, 1823.

        His education was liberal, conducted at the onaldson Academy and the University, where he graduated in 1843, in the same class with Hon. John L. Bridgers, Hon. Robert P. Dick, Philo P. Henderson, Judge Samuel J. Person, and others. He served in the Legislature in 1846 to 1850 in the House, and 1854 and '58 in the Senate, and in the Congress of the Confederacy.

        He is a planter by profession, and now lives in dignified retirement like Cincinatus, until he is called, like him, by the people, to position of responsibility and honor, which his merits entitle him, and his talents so admirably qualify him to adorn.


        There are so many memories that cluster around the early times of this ancient county, associated with the chivalric daring of her patriotic sons, that the historian is embarrassed by the riches the glowing record presents. The difficulty arises not so much in finding material for his study as in selecting events and subjects most worthy of preservation. Here was the ancient borough of Brunswick.*

        * The ancient town of Brunswick, once the seat of the Royal Government, was on the left bank of the Cape Fear River, about 10 miles from the present town of Smithville. It was nearly destroyed on the 7th of September, 1769, by a hurricane, which is depicted in a dispatch from Tyron. (Colonial Doc's from Rolls Office, London.)

This section was the home of Howe, of Harnett, and of Hill, where wealth and enterprise reared stately mansions; where generous hospitality, gentle courtesy, and social harmony prevailed, and where wit, science and refinement found a habitation.

        These people were happy when left to themselves; never yielded quiet obedience to the rule of the lords proprietors, nor were they even on good terms with the rulers of Royalty. Governor Dobbs, with amiable traits of character and with all the patronage of the Government, could win but few advocates. Governor Tryon, his successor, by turns threatened and flattered them, but in vain; and finally they drove out Gov. Martin, the last of the Royal Governors, from the country, to whom, like the guests of Macbeth, the people of Brunswick said, with more decision than comity,

                         --At once, good night!
                         Stand not upon the order of your going--
                         But go at once.

        These people, when the Stamp Act was before the Parliament, saw the storm approaching; without fear they watched its course, and when it came, they breasted its fury with firm and manly spirit. When its final passage was announced, the Chevalier Bayard of the day,
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