The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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placed under the tutelage and protection of Cullen Pollock, Esq., of Edenton, I presume, after the death of Mrs. Buncombe and after the Colonel went into the army. The former event seems to have taken place not many years after her arrival in this country. On attaining womanhood, (sixteen or seventeen,) Eliza Buncombe was married to John Goelet, Esq., of New York, and was regarded, generally, as a most beautiful woman, and, from various accounts, not far short of Scott's apostrophe--

                         "Ne'er did Grecian chisel trace
                         A nymph, a naiad, or a grace.
                         Of lovelier form or finer face."

        When the colonists were in open rebellion against the mother country, on account of the oppressive stamp and tea acts, the revolution in its full blaze, and the British forces on our shores, Edward Buncombe, having become something of a politician, and being a brave, chivalric gentleman, of a sanguine temperament, and burning with patriotic ardor to bare his bosom to the battle's rage in defense of his adopted country's rights was appointed by the State Provincial Congress, which met at Halifax April 4, 1776, colonel of the Fifth Regiment of North Carolina troops--he immediately conceived the idea of raising, by enlistment, a regiment of soldiery, principally from the counties of Washington and Tyrrell, and sent out recruiting officers to others. He soon succeeded in raising a regiment, at his own expense, which he quartered and drilled at Buncombe Hall for about one year, preparatory to joining the army under Washington. By a simple computation it may be seen that the raising and quartering of a regiment which, probably, at that time consisted of from 500 to 700 men, for about one year, by a private individual, was a matter of no small expense; hence the magnitude and justice of the unliquidated claim which the heirs of Colonel Buncombe have, from time to time, asserted as due them by the Nation. Full of ardor, and enjoying, to an unlimited degree, the confidence of his troops, with his blushing honors crowding upon him in anticipation, young and buoyant, he sallied forth to the scene of war and joined General Washington's army, but at what point the writer has not been enabled to discover. He served in the Revolutionary War to the date of the battle at Germantown, (1777,) at which time and place he received his mortal wound. As a wounded officer, he was put on his parole, and on one occasion, being at the house of one of Washington's generals, he remained standing. At length, being asked by the General who he was, the Colonel made a response, characteristic of the man, "I am Colonel Edward Buncombe, Fifth Regiment of North Carolina troops, of Buncombe Hall, North Carolina, and a gentleman, and if a gentleman should come to my house, I would ask him to take a seat and a glass of wine." At this rebuke the General smiled, and accordingly invited him to both. The Colonel, being somewhat convalescent of his wounds, went to an evening party at a friend's house in the city, and while descending the stairway, by some means or other fell over the railing, which fall, together with his wounds, resulted in his death. He died in Philadelphia at the age of thirty, leaving Cullen Pollock and Dr. Lenox executors of his will. His wife, Eliza, died anterior to the war, and her remains were deposited in the middle aisle of St. Paul's Church, Edenton. The Colonel's sister, Mrs. Ann Caines, and Mrs. Buncombe's brother, the Rev. Samuel Oakes Taylor, have frequently written to the family in Carolina, and their letters are still extant. When the Colonel left for the war, he made Cullen Pollock his agent, who leased out Buncombe Hall and the negroes thereon to one Cook for $800 per annum for four years. This Cook was cousin to the Colonel, but possessed a name of not very "genteel memory," and of him, in connection with the Buncombe family, might be said what Coriolanus said of Rome:

                         "Thou hast lost the breed of noble blood."

        Immediately on the death of the Colonel, this Cook broke open a closet almost hermetically sealed with wax, and surreptitiously abstracted therefrom all the silverware and plate, which was afterward seen in possession of his heirs, with the initials E. E. B. on them. He cut down, for firewood, the left-hand side of the beautiful avenue leading from the gate to the house, and finally paid the price of his lease, $3,200, by a certificate of discharge in bankcruptcy at Edenton. This agent, Cullen Pollock, was so negligent that he permitted a large portion of the Buncombe Hall tract to escheat for the non-payment of taxes. Colonel Buncombe's estate was sued to pay for Eliza Buncombe's board for ten years, and several negroes were necessarily sold.

        Colonel Buncombe's popularity seems to have been commensurate with his hospitality; as proofs conclusive of the former the following incidents may suffice: His repeated elevations to the State Legislature, his appointment by the
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