absent for a month or more, hunting the deer, turkies, and bears, and in silent communion with nature and with nature's God. He realized the exquisite lines of Byron--
Crime came not near him; she is not the child
Of solitude. Health shrank not from him,
For her home is in the rarely trodden wild;
Tall and swift of foot were they,
Beyond the dwafing city's pale abortion,
Because their thoughts had never learned to stray
On care or gain; the green woods were their portion,
No sinking spirits told them they grew gray,
No fashion made them apes of her distortion
Simple and civil; and their rifles
Tho' very true, were not used for trifles.
He left two daughters and one son: Anna, who married William Whitson; Rachel, who married John Carson; and Colonel Joseph McDowell, who was born on 25th February, 1758, at Pleasant Gardens, in Burke County. He was always called "Colonel Joe of the Pleasant Gardens," to distinguish him from "General Joe of Quaker Meadows."
He was a soldier and a statesman, and the most distinguished of the name.
He early entered the profession of arms. At the age of 18 he joined General Rutherford in an expedition, in 1776, against the Cherokee Indians, in which he displayed much gallantry and desperate courage. It is known that in a hand-to-hand fight he killed an Indian chief with his sword.
He was active in repressing the Tories, and took part in the battle at Ramsour's Mills, on 20th June, 1780, near Lincolnton, as mentioned by General Graham in eulogistic terms, for his conduct on that occasion, and materially aided in achieving a complete victory over a superior force.
At Cane Creek, in Rutherford County, with General Charles McDowell, he led the militia, chiefly of Burke County, and had a severe skirmish with a strong detachment of Ferguson's army, then stationed at Gilbert Town, and drove them back.
Immediately afterward he aided in measures which culminated in the glorious victory of King's Mountain.
This was the darkest period of the dubious conflict. Gates was defeated at Camden; Savannah and Charleston surrendered to the British; Sumter, at Fishing Creek, (18th August, 1780;) Cornwallis, in "all the pride and circumstance" of a conqueror, held the undisputed possession of Charlotte and its vicinity.
Ferguson, with strong force, was winning the attachment of the people from liberty to loyalty; while the Tories ravaged the whole country with vindictive fury.
There was not a regular soldier south of Virginia, and every organized force was scattered or disbanded. The time had come, and these brave men felt that they must "do or die."
Amid all these disastrous circumstances, the patriotic spirits of Cleaveland, Campbell, Sevier, and McDowell did not despair. They determined to attack the forces of Ferguson. They were all of equal rank, and as the troops were in the district of Charles McDowell, he was entitled to the command.
From a manuscript letter of Shelby, in my possession, he says:
"Colonel McDowell was the commanding officer of the district we were in, and had commanded the armies of the militia all the summer before, against the same enemy. He was brave and patriotic, but we considered him too far advanced in life and too inactive to command the enterprise.
"It was decided to send to headquarters for some general officer to command the expedition.
"Colonel McDowell, who had the good of his country more at heart than any title of command, submitted, and stated that he would be the messenger to go to headquarters. He accordingly started immediately, leaving his men under his brother, Major Joseph McDowell."
The next day Shelby urged that time was precious and delays dangerous. The advance was made. Colonel Joseph McDowell, the subject of our present sketch, led the boys of
Index - Contents