IV. After the battle, enough was enough

Many were sore chased and some were cut down:
fighting, Cornwallis with the Rockbridge County Militia in 1781.
Part 1V

By Odell McGuire © Dec '95

The battle near Guilford Courthouse was over and the campaign appeared stalemated. With General Edward Stevens wounded and Colonel William Campbell sent home, the Augusta and Rockbridge riflemen had been put under the command of Brigadier Robert Lawson, an officer they didn't know. Many had lost their blankets and warm clothes in the fight, and, as the cold rain slackened, the weather turned even colder. They began to talk of going home. The diary of Private Sam Houston from the Rockbridge battalion of Colonel Samuel McDowell, tells the story:

Saturday, 17th.— On account of the want of some of our blankets and some other clothing, many proposed returning home, which was talked of in general in M’Dowell's battalion, till at last they agreed, and many went off; a few were remaining when General Lawson came and raged very much; and about ten o'clock all but M'Dowell came off We marched twelve miles to the old Surry towns on Dan where we encamped.

Sabbath, 18th  — Crossed Dan, in our march touched on Smith's River on our left, at which place we received a little bacon and a bushel of meal. A little afterward, many went to a tavern where some got drunk and quarreled. We marched through the lower end of Henry County, and encamped on the borders of Pittsylvania, which evening I opened the clothes of Jo Weir. That same night Robert Wardlaw burned the butt of his gun. Our march was fifteen miles. (Houston was possibly carrying home the clothes of a fallen comrade and Wardlaw may have been desperate for firewood: cold night.)

Monday, 19th — Marched into Pittsylvania and encamped with a Dutchman where we got some meat. Our mess bought ten quarts of flour and some hoe-cake. The day's journey twenty-two miles. Our sick were lodged in the house, and Dr. Brown such care of them. (Houston, in an earlier entry, uses 'sick' for 'wounded.)

Tuesday, 20th.  In the morning Dr. Brown and Captain Alexander disputed about the wagons. Near the middle of the day we left the wagons, and took off the great road under the direction of a pilot, whom some fearing he was leading us into a snare, they charged their guns. We crossed Stanton River, and dined, fifteen of us, at Captain Chiles, from which we marched two miles and encamped. In all fifteen miles. (Captain Joseph Alexander was the fifth company commander in McDowell's battalion. Of the others, one, either Gilmore or David Cloyd, was in the wagons with the other wounded. John Paxton had been left wounded and Alexander Tedford dead on the field near Guilford Courthouse.)

Wednesday, 21st.— We paid Murphy one dollar a man, for horses to carry us over Goose Creek. Had Breakfast with Mr. Butler, and three pints of brandy. In the evening I was sick; came to Mr. Rountrees, where we lodged. I got a little milk and peach-dumpling, the rest a dinner of meat and so on. I lay in a bed with Jas. Blair, and the rest on the floor. Our day's march was twenty-one miles.

Thursday, 22d.—My brother and I hired Mr. Rountree's horses, and his son came with us to Mr. Lamberts, where, after he received forty-three dollars, he returned. We eat with Mr. Lambert, and paid him ten dollars each. I bought five books from him, and paid him four hundred and twelve dollars and a half.  We crossed the mountain, and saw the wonderful mill without wheels, doors, or floors. In that same valley Jos. Boagle met us with brother's horses, and he with one of them went back for Robert McCormic. We proceeded to Greenlee's, got dinner, and when they came up crossed the river and came to Beagle's, where we lodged. Our day's march was thirty-two miles.

Friday, 23d.—Left Boagle’s and came to brother William's. Here I conclude my journal of the expedition under Colonel M'Dowell against Cornwallis, the British General in North Carolina. Rockbridge County, Virginia, in the year 1781, March 23d.

            s /    Samuel Houston


Six weeks earlier, when James Gilmore's Rifles returned from the Cowpens, the men had hardly arrived home when General Greene's pleas to Governor Jefferson for help resulted in a new draft on the Rockbridge militias for more hard service in the Carolinas. This sequence of events was now repeated. On March 29th Jefferson and the Council met in Richmond and agreed to call up and send southward a quarter of the militia from several Southside, Blue Ridge, and Valley counties, including Rockbridge. 

          The county's warlords, Lieutenant Colonels Samuel McDowell and his step-father, John Bowyer, were apprehensive about this call. While McDowell was at Guilford, a petition to the House of Delegates, protesting plans to draft a portion of the militia into regular service for 18 months, had been forwarded by Bowyer. It was signed by many of the same men who had fought with McDowell against Cornwallis or who had marched down the Country to the James with Bowyer against invading armies led by General Leslie and the traitor, Benedict Arnold. The Virginia campaigns were nearly as bloodless as they were fruitless, one or the other or both being known locally as 'the Wild Goose Chase'. Still they took men away from their farms and exposed their families to the raids of Tories and Shawnees, the latter having penetrated east to the Greenbrier as recently as 1778. Aware of this strong sentiment against the proposed 18 month callup, Jefferson sweetened his call for more service in the Carolinas with a simultaneous announcement that the affected counties would not be subjected to the draft for long service. But the Rockbridge riflemen were not distracted from the immediate issue: the prospect of a quarter of them missing spring planting on yet another campaign after all of them had already seen at least one stint of service since the previous October. McDowell wrote Jefferson as follows:


SIR                                                                                            Rockbridge April 20th 1781

I received your Excellencys Order of the 29 march last, and ordered the Draft accordingly. The Draft is mode and the day of Randizvouse is the 26th Inst. But it must ruin a number of those whose lot it is to march at this time. As most of them were down last fall when Genl. Lesley Invaded this State, by which they were Prevented from Sowing fall Crops; And by going to Join Genl. Green at this time, they will not be able to Raise Spring Crops, and therefore their familys and Stocks must Suffer, as they (Mostly) have not any Person behind them when they are gone from home to work their Small farms.

They likewise are of Opinion, if your Excellency and Councel knew the Duty, this County has done Since last October you would Excuse them at this time and call for men from the Counties which have clone less. 

Numbers of the men now called for, have desiered me to write to your Excellency and the Honorable Councel, and Represent their, and the Countys case; And they are Persuaded that they will have Equal Justice done them. 

(I have Stated the Case of the men above) And this County has in October last, had Capt. James Gilmer and forty odd men in Carolina under Genl. Morgan for near four months and was at Tarletons defeat at the Cow Pens in South Carolina, And there were also three Companies down (when Lessley Invaded this State) their numbers were about 180 men. On Arnolds Invasion Colo. John Bowyer marched with about 200 men down the Country. And ... I marched near 200 men from this County to Join General Green. When we got to Bedford we were informed, that Cornwallace had gone up from Hillsborrough, to Guilford. I with deficualty persuaded the men to cross the Dan into Carolina, and Joined Genl. Green, Some time before the Battle at Guilford, Courthouse; Continued with him till after the Battle the 15th of March last, had 1 Captain and 4 Privets killed, two Captains one Ensign and Seven Privets Wounded and Maier Stuart and four Privets taken Prisners. From these different calls all the men in this County have been on hard Service Each a tour, Since October last and nearly two thirds of them at the Same time. If your Excellency and the Honourable Councel could Excuse the men of this County at this time from Performing the tour of duty now called for off them, till Some future day, it would much oblige them; and they would be able to raise Bread for their families, for I assure you Sir few of them , have any Person when they are front home to do any work on their farms.


The Services this County have Performed Since october last, are truly Stated; and I hope your Excellency and the Honorable Councel will Consider the matter and grant such Releif as in your Power, consistent with the good of the State and believe me your Excellencys most Obdt most Humble Sert,

 s Saml: McDowell



The wounded Ensign mentioned here was possibly Robert Dunlap, a veteran of Lord Dunmore's War, who is supposed to have been killed or fatally wounded near Guilford Courthouse when he refused an ordered retreat from the second line. The Captains and some of the Privates have been accounted for elsewhere.


This plea for relief from the draft was favorably answered by Jefferson, but he put a price on it. He replied on the 23rd that Rockbridge had, in fact, performed more duty tours than the other counties and was therefore excused from going to the aid of Greene yet again. However, it was because of this call that the draft into regular service had been suspended in the affected counties. So, the Sage of Monticello judged, Rockbridge, by not answering this call, was once again subject to the much abhorred 18 month callup. He and the riflemen were, by now, using different arithmetics in the calculus of draft calls, and with a predictable result: draft riots.


The 18 month draft for regular service was scheduled for May and was to work as follows: Quotas were assigned to the counties by Richmond. Districts, corresponding to militia company units, were then laid off by County Lieutenants and a period of time was given for each District Captain to recruit volunteers. Then, on the day of the draft, the companies would muster and the men draw lots to determine which of them were conscripted to fill out the quotas not already filled by volunteer recruits. These districts had already been laid off earlier in the year in Rockbridge and Augusta, but had to be redrawn due to subsequent, uneven losses from them at Guilford, Courthouse and by a new set of exemptions, especially those for iron workers. The riots came in the form of efforts to disrupt this redistricting.


' The people seem much averse to

[the draft] in Agusta and Rockbridge

but it dont amount to a Majority I

believe.' And he recommended 'Hanging

a few for examples to the rest.'      


Colonel George Moffett, who had led the Augusta contingent at Guilford and was now acting as Augusta County Lieutenant, was at Jennings Gap on April 30th, taking the reports of District officers on their current numbers of militia. People crowded into the house with a petition signed by a great number and demanded that the redistricting be halted. Moffett and the other officers present protested that this was not within their power to do. Then, as Moffett reported to Jefferson a few days later, this:


...A number of Armed men, who till then had not appeared in the House, rushed through the Crowd Come Round the table where we Sat, Demanded the lists or Roles from the Captains, Snatching up Every paper on the table that they thought made for their purpose and became Exceedingly Insolent, which Effectually put a Stop to any farther proceedings. They complained they were Imposed upon and Said they were Cheerfully willing to Spend their hearts blood in Defence of the Cuntery. Yet they would Suffer Death before they would be Drafted 18 months from their families and made Regular Soldiers of ...


The Delegates quickly adjourned for

Warm Springs... where they would be

in more danger from Shawnees than

from British soldiers.


The Rockbridge riflemen followed the Augusta events with much interest and, as described to the Governor by McDowell, around the end of the first week in May:


... about a hundred of them, ... seeing Colo. Bowyer getting the lists front the Captains; of the Strength of their Companies, and Supposing it was to lay off the Districts anew, got into the Court House Seated the table, carried it off in a Roiatous manner, and Said no Districts Should be laid off there, for they would Serve as Militia for those months and make up the Eighteen months that way, but would not be Drafted for Eighteen Months and be regulars. Much was Said to Deswaid them from Such an Exceeding imprudent Act, and one that must be attended with Such dredfull consequences to themselves, to the State, and to the Continant, but all to no Purpose. They tore the Papers and after Some time begun to go off...


McDowell's letter also quotes a rumor to the effect that an Augusta member of the House of Delegates had helped incite these riots, by advising several of the men who led them that they would not be held accountable under any serious wartime laws, unless they disrupted the draft on the very day set for the lottery. It was obviously Zachariah Johnston, later a famous Congressman, of whom he wrote. Johnston was also a Captain of Augusta's mounted militia company. He was later investigated and cleared of the charge by the House, but many believed at the time that he acted as McDowell suggested.


Jefferson, through his War Commissioner, William Davies, quietly sought independent information as to the true extent of disaffection in the two counties. Colonel Posey, a regular officer in Staunton, wrote:


'The people seem much averse to [the draft] in Augusta and Rockbridge, but it dont amount to a Majority I beleave.' And he recommended 'Hanging a few, for examples to the rest.' But another informant wrote: Mr Andrew Moore from Rockbridge says those mutinyous rascals in Augusta and Rockbridge amount to a majority, a great majority in Augusta!' In any case the men who participated in the riots were never punished nor was any successful 18 month draft held in either county before the end of the war.


Meanwhile, events had taken a drastic turn east of the mountains. Nathanael Greene, declining to attack Cornwallis in his fortifications before Wilmington, marched for Camden, 160 miles west, and the reconquest of South Carolina. The British General, declining to embark for Charleston or otherwise attempt to concentrate his Carolina forces, marched for Petersburg in Virginia, 260 miles north. The latter move was totally unexpected by anybody. Greene, George Washington, the Virginia leadership of Governor Jefferson, Baron von Steuben, and the Marquis de Lafayette, and most especially, Sir Henry Clinton and the other British commanders in New York, all found themselves in the midst of plans and operations that were suddenly and completely deranged.


Cornwallis, as most others, saw that the war was hopelessly deadlocked in the North. But it was also headed for inevitable deadlock in the Carolinas, and he was the first to realize that it would have to be settled in Virginia. He had lost at Guilford near a third of his men and almost half his officers to an army preponderantly supplied with men, horses and arms from Virginia. If the war in the south was to be won, east Virginia, with its numerous militia, iron works, interior navigation, lush agriculture, and fat horses, would have to be subdued and turned into a British supply base.


Cornwallis joined the army of Arnold to his own on May 20th at Petersburg on the Appomattox and sent him and the least useful of his Tories back to New York. Within a week he had crossed the James at Westover, and turned north up the Peninsula, hoping to out off Lafayette's corps in Richmond. The first fruits of his invasion were five or six hundred big, blooded horses to replace the crowbait animals his troopers had been so long embarrassed with in the Carolinas. BanastreTarleton's and John Simcoe's legions would now give the Earl a superiority in the horse arm which he had not enjoyed since coming to America. His entire army of 4500 veteran regulars was of the size and proficiency he liked to work with. His style of operations had much in common with Stonewall Jackson's. Greater ease of subsistence, quickness of response, cohesion, mobility, and dependability would, under his leadership, more than compensate for the small numbers of the force.

Greene was still in nominal command in Virginia. When he learned of Cornwallis' movement, he sent word to Lafayette to take command of all troops in Virginia and 'defend the state.' But Greene was far away. The Marquis beat a quick, well advised retreat from Richmond north to, the Rappahannock. He had a corps of 1000 regulars, possibly 1500 musket militia, only 60 troopers and not a hundred riflemen'. 'I am not even strong enough,' he wrote Washington, 'to get beaten.'

Cornwallis, when he reached Hanover after Lafayette had passed, looked around, for new, less wary victims. The government had adjourned to Charlottesville, seventy miles northwest, and Steuben was fifty miles west at a major arms depot at Point of Fork, the confluence of the James and Rivanna Rivers. The Baron had a small but growing army of militia and 18 month recruits which he was training and equipping for service with Greene. On June 3rd the British commander sent one flying column under Simcoe to hit Steuben and the supply depot, and another, under Tarleton, up the York basin toward Charlottesville to bag Jefferson, Patrick Henry and other treasonable Virginia politicians. Each detachment included mounted infantry and cavalry and Simcoe's had additional infantry riding double behind the mounted men, a tactic which would have been impractical without their new mounts. Simcoe's command numbered 500; Tarleton's, half as many. The main army would trail Simcoe.

Steuben, with only a few mounted videttes, was unable to get much detailed information, but he knew that Cornwallis was somewhere north of the James and perhaps as little as fifty miles away. Also, he still considered his principal objective to be a junction with Greene in the Carolinas. On the 3rd, therefore he began transferring men and arms from the point across to the south side of the James. Simcoe splashed across the Rivanna onto the point the next morning, where he found only a reduced cache of supplies, fifty men, and a few canoes on his side of the larger river. He gobbled up the detachment and ordered his men to deploy along the north bank, bring up artillery and look as numerous and hostile as possible. The bluff worked. Steuben fled, leaving behind for the British a great hoard of arms, ammunition and supplies, though he had over 800 men and knew there were no large boats on the other side. Simcoe then ferried a few troopers across in the canoes with orders to take possession, pick up what mounts they could on the far side, and make a show of pursuit. The befuddled Baron and his army made for the distant but relatively safe Carolinas. Only after an unambiguous order from Lafayette caught up with him, forbidding him under any circumstances to leave Virginia, did he turn back. The Rockbridge riflemen, had they not resisted Jefferson's callup in April, would have augmented this undistinguished campaign. In Steuben's defense, it can only be said that he was not alone in his failure to see the fact, blinded by its obviousness, that Cornwallis' long and sudden march had made Virginia, irreversibly, the focus of the war.

Meanwhile, at Monticello on that same morning, just before daylight, Governor Jefferson was awakened by Captain John Jouett, a lone rider with an urgent tale. He had been sitting in the tavern at Cuckoo in southeast Louisa County the previous evening when Tarleton's Legion rode by. Suspecting their destination, he rode 50 odd miles on back roads to alert the government that it was about to be raided. The Governor sent him on over to Charlottesville to warn the legislators. These included former-Governor Patrick Henry and four signers of the Declaration of Independence. They like himself lay under charge of treason. Jefferson sent his family packing and, an hour or so later, as troopers entered the grounds, he slipped off through the woods.

Jouett's news caused the politicians in the town to quickly decide on a new venue: Staunton in Augusta County, beyond the Blue Ridge. They rode west for the hills. Tarleton, having marched 70 miles in 24 hours, had to amuse himself with scattering a company which disputed his passage of the Rivanna, burning some supplies and barrels of gunpowder, and the capture of a half-dozen Delegates and Lieutenant Governor Dudley Digges.

When the House reconvened in Staunton on Thursday, June 7th, it was in a drastic temper, seething with the humiliation of its recent panic, and the state was without a Governor. Jefferson's term of office had expired on June 2nd, so that he was only serving temporarily and informally until a new one was named. Also, as he had not fled in the same direction as the delegates, his whereabouts was uncertain. His Lieutenant, as already noted, was on Tarleton's hospitality. There was every promise of an entertaining session, and Archie Stuart, Sam Houston's messmate on the Guilford campaign, was there to watch the fun, apparently as spectator.

According to Stuart, a motion was made by George Nicholas to appoint 'a Dictator in this Commonwealth who should have the power of disposing of the lives and fortunes of the Citizens thereof without being subject to account.' This was seconded by Patrick Henry. It had the support of many delegates and, some say, failed passage by a few votes. George Washington's name was mentioned as candidate during the debate. But Jefferson and others have suspected that the move was part and parcel with moves made by the same people a week later to impeach his own administration. Washington, who would certainly want nothing to do with such a business, was being used as stalking horse for the real aspirant to dictatorship, Patrick Henry.

Most of the records of this debate were lost or destroyed during a new panic which now struck the already shaky politicians. On Saturday, word was received that Tarleton, who was thought to be at Point of Fork, was now back near Charlottesville (true), and during the night came further word that he was headed for Rockfish Gap and Staunton (fictional, possibly a pure prank). The Delegates quickly adjourned for Warm Springs, located beyond two more mountain ranges where they would be in more danger from Shawnees than from British soldiers. The streets of Staunton were soon strewn with abandoned bags, portmanteaus, and bundles of clothing. The ex-governor and famous lawyer, patriot, dance fiddler, demogogue, and would-be-dictator, according to local legend, cantered from the town with one boot on. A Delegate Dr. Long is said to have ridden twenty miles before he noticed that his horse was not saddled. Some, that Sunday morning, took the southern route to Warm Springs, through Rockbridge County, and met William Graham, the Rector of Liberty Hall, riding from Lexington to Augusta Stone Church. When told of their business, he asked, sensing confusion among them, if the Delegates had thought to call out the militia. They had not.

The Presbyterian Minister-Headmaster, now raised a hue and cry in northern Rockbridge County. Before nightfall several hundred riflemen with Colonel McDowell at their head were on the march for Rockfish Gap. There they joined with a like number from Augusta who had also called themselves out. Graham himself held a Captain's commission from early in the war when he was elected to head a volunteer company that never saw service. He raised another company that evening in Lexington, probably including his little group of students at the Hall, and marched next morning. When they arrived at the Gap they found McDowell in command of an army of riflemen disposed on the mountainsides. They were more than a match for Tarleton, but Tarleton didn't come. Instead, it was Lafayette, recently reinforced by Anthony Wayne's Pennsylvania Line and a corps of riflemen under William Campbell, who now showed up below them in the vicinity of Charlottesville. An invitation was sent to the Rockbridge and Augusta men to join them. Many declined and went back to their wives and spring gardens, but several companies, including Graham's, went down to join Campbell and the Marquis.

Meanwhile, the generals around New York, including Sir Henry Clinton, still did not have a clear notion of where the war was. Cornwallis was ordered to find a suitable port and embark several of his regiments for duty in the north. In compliance, the Earl began his retreat back toward Tidewater. Lafayette, still with an inferior force, was puzzled, but followed after him with appropriate caution. At about this time the entire campaign came to be called by riflemen 'the Country Dance Campaign'; this from its rapid to-and-fro figures and promenades without any serious bodily contact. Some Valley riflemen stayed with it, going on to the sharp skirmishing around Williamsburg and the great siege at Yorktown. But Graham's company soon tired of it and, after several marches and bivouacs, went back over the Blue Ridge to Rockbridge County.

The Delegates, after their excursion to .Warm Springs, returned to Staunton on June 12th. Their first order of business was to initiate investigations into the conduct of former Governor Jefferson and others they thought might be held responsible for their humiliations of recent weeks. Also, they rewarded some others they thought had been more dutiful: Colonel Samuel McDowell of Rockbridge was elevated to membership on the State Council; Thomas Nelson, commander of the Virginia Militia, was named Governor; Colonel William Campbell, now a Delegate from Washington County, was promoted to Brigadier after he had already left to join Lafayette; and Captain Jack Jouett, for his all-night ride from Cuckoo to Charlottesville, was presented 'an elegant sword' and a brace of pistols.

In Amelia County, a party of nine riders from Tarleton's Legion, during its mid-July raid in Southside Virginia, came to the farm of a Mr. Ware. The Legion Paymaster, their leader, placed his drawn sword under his left arm, hilts forward, and bent over to pilfer the knee buckles of a large unarmed man in civilian dress who happened to be visiting Ware. It was Peter Francisco. The legendary giant soldier grabbed the sword, hacked to death the paymaster and his two nearest companions, and, calling others to his aid, scattered the rest. All but one of them had dismounted to plunder the place and had to run away without their horses.

Brigadier William Campbell, member of the House, south Augusta County native, Liberty Hall graduate, victor of Kings Mountain, commander of riflemen on the left wing at Guilford, and now leader of Lafayette's rifle corps, was struck down and killed by a fever in Hanover County in mid-August. He was 36 years old.

General Charles Cornwallis, on October 19th at Yorktown, surrendered to the combined forces of America and France under General George Washington. The British army was reduced to 3,500, mainly by tick and mosquito fevers. To his front he was under close siege by 16,000 Frenchmen, Continentals and Virginia militia. To his rear the French fleet controlled the waters of Chesapeake Bay, having defeated and turned back the British relief expedition in September. The Earl began his report to Henry Clinton: 'SIR, I HAVE the mortification to inform your excellency that I have been forced to give up the posts of York and Gloucester, and to surrender the troops under my command ...`

Private Archibald Stuart made a career as a lawyer, politician and distinguished judge in Augusta County. He died in 1832 in Staunton, some months before the birth of his famous grandson, James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart in Patrick County.

Private Sam Houston, Stuart's companion on the Guilford campaign, was ordained to the Presbyterian ministry. After a brief career in Tennessee, he returned to become pastor of High Bridge Presbyterian Church in Rockbridge County. Many south Rockbridge veterans of the Guilford Campaign came to his sermons, and Sunday afternoons at High Bridge were thought of as 'reunions: Some remembered that Sam occasionally spoke of his role in the battle. When he came to his tree at the outset, he said, he committed his fate to God's Providence 'with unusual freedom' and then fired fourteen rounds from his rifle during the course of the fight. He died in 1839, already blind for several years, at age 81.

Captain Alexander Tedford's body was left on Guilford battlefield and his mother (some say his wife) went in search of it. She returned bereft of her wits and died within a year or two. Tedford left a two year old daughter, Sarah, who married Elihu Barclay at the turn of the century. Her grandson, AlexanderTedford Barclay, was one of the Liberty Hall Volunteers of 1861, serving with the Stonewall Brigade until it was wiped out at Spottsylvania Courthouse in 1864, where he was taken prisoner. Other

One souvenir of the battle
bears the inscription: 'This
British powder horn was picked
up by Wm. Youel on the battle
field of the Cowpens which was
fought on Jan. 17, 1781. To be
kept in the Youel families.’

descendants went west. There is an Alexander Tedford DAR chapter in Huron, South Dakota,

Captain John Paxton, with Captain Joseph Alexander, his brother-in-law and comrade-in-arms at Guilford acting as surety, was licensed to keep an Ordinary at home at November Court of '81. But at the same session trouble surfaced between Paxton and John Bowyer, County Lieutenant and presiding Court Justice. First Bowyer was presented by the Grand Jury on a charge of 'preventing Men from going out on a Militia Tour of Duty when Lawfully called. Upon Evidence of John Millikan.' Millikan was a militia member from Paxton's District. Then this: 'John Paxton Presented for offering to make bets in a Public Company that Cornwallis would make his escape or go where he pleased. Colo. John Bowyer, informant.' The latter charge was petty and obviously retributive. The one against Bowyer must refer to a call to aid Lafayette issued by Jefferson on May 28th. It required several County Lieutenants, including Bowyer, to send 'whatever number you were deficient in sending Southward' in the previous call of March 29th. But Jefferson had, in meantime, excused Rockbridge from the call to aid Greene in the South. So Bowyer must have felt technically justified in interpreting this deficiency number as zero, whereas Millikan, Paxton and probably others construed the phrase specifying the number as a trivial error of wording. Which it undoubtedly was. Both charges were dismissed by December Court, but as late as June of 1783, the affair was still smouldering as Bowyer received orders from the Governor's office to either reinstate Captain Paxton on the Militia rolls or call a court martial.

It is said that Paxton's foot, wounded at Guilford, never healed. He died in 1787 at age 44. Some have said that Bowyer too was wounded, in the fighting around Williamsburg in late June and early July. That is impossible as he was in Lexington tending to Court business all summer, but he may have injured his leg in the earlier campaign down the Country against Arnold. He lived into his eighties, builder and master of the famous Thorn Hill residence. He died in 1806, passing on a very rich estate to his nephew namesake, Captain John Bowyer.

Private David Steele, a member of James Tate's company who had been cut down by Tarleton's dragoons near Guilford Courthouse, was visited at Midway, Virginia (now Steele's Tavern), in 1782 by the French traveler, the Marquis de Chastellux. Steele was then operating a mill and public house. The Marquis described him as a handsome young man of about twenty-five years with a handsome wife. He was disabled by 'fifteen or sixteen wounds', the worst of which he received after he surrendered. The wife brought out for the traveler's inspection a piece of bone which had been clipped from David's skull by a saber. At the time of the visit Steele served no spirits, but some say that he later kept an Ordinary, his skull splinters residing in a glass on the bar, about which the inevitable questions they provoked gave him frequent opportunity to tell his story.

The Frenchman went on to visit Natural Bridge and stayed at Grigsby's, where the Rockbridge battalion had encamped on the first night of their march to Guilford in February of 81. The other guests were a good looking young couple with a child in arms, a single horse and little else. They were on their way from Philadelphia to Cumberland Gap and beyond to settle on the Kentucky frontier, 500 miles. The Marquis was astonished at the ease of manner and apparent serenity with which they contemplated such an undertaking.

Private William Youel, who fought with Gilmore's Rifles at the Cowpens, raised six daughters and three sons on a farm on the Little Calfpasture. His souvenir of the battle bears the inscription: 'This British powder horn was picked up by Wm. Youel on the battle field of the Cowpens which was fought on Jan. 17, 1781. To be kept in the Youel families.' In 1979, almost 200 years later, the horn was in the possession of Jim Youel of Fort Madison, Iowa.

Rebecca McNutt McCorkle, who lost a husband and a brother at the Cowpens, remarried in 1782 to Arthur Glasgow and moved to Kentucky. Her baby daughter, Katherine McCorkle, still unborn at the time of Ensign John McCorkle's departure for the Carolinas, was left behind. She married a Thomas Walker in 1800 and they also went west.

As for Sally Hall Tate, widow of Captain James Tate who fought at the Cowpens and was killed in the skirmish at New Garden Meeting, she remarried in 1787 to her sister's husband's brother, Ensign Hugh Fulton, and they too moved on west.

For many years afterwards down to Civil War times, the events of 1781, most especially the march to Rockfish Gap and down the Country with Lafayette, were celebrated annually by students at Washington College, formerly Liberty Hall. Each Spring a student in the uniform of a Continental officer appeared on campus and called a muster. Then there was a march west out the Midland Trail a few miles to visit a tavern there and an overnight bivouac in House Mountains. 


© Odell McGuire, published simultaneously in: The Rockbridge Advocate