This information is contributed by Peggy Ward Rawheiser
William Ward of Sampson County, entered the service a minute man under the command
of Captain James Love, Lt. David Cannon and Ensign John MacKann in September 1775 and
served until March 1776. His information is listed with the DAR.
He was born Dec 20, 1753 in Pitt County. He was living in Duplin County on Goshen when he
was called into service. After the Revolutionary war he lived near Duplin Old Court House, not
far from the line dividing Duplin and Sampson but moved to Sampson in his later years, still not
far from the Duplin Line.
This was dictated to the Court of Common Pleas at the age of 78 in his attempting to
prove his service in order to get a pension. This is on record with the US Veterans
He told them that he was born in Pitt County on December 20, 1753. When he was
called into service he was living on Goshen in Duplin County. After the war he lived
on Goshen, thence near old Duplin Court House which is not far from the line dividing
Duplin and Sampson. At the time of this deposition, he was living in Sampson County,
not far from the Duplin line. He stated that he served every tour as a volunteer except
the last at which time he was drafted and that he never served as a substitute.
He entered service as a Minute Man under the command of Captain James Love, Lt.
David Cannon and Ensign John MacKann in September 1775. He rendezvoused first at
Duplin Old Court House from his home on Goshen in Duplin County. He engaged in his
first six months term of service and marched to upper Rockfish Creek in Cumberland
County, about eight miles from Fayetteville, called Cross Creek. There were at this place
about 300 Duplin militia; with officers was Lt Thomas Hooks with Captain Henry Dickson
and Lt. Tilman Dickson as commanders. From thence they marched to Elizabeth Town in
Bladen County where there was a company of Minute Men commanded by Captain Thomas
Bludworth and Lt. Thomas DeVane.
They all took a boat down the Cape Fear River to its junction with Black River, thence up
Black River to the mouth of Moore’s Creek about four days after the Battle of Moore’s Creek
Bridge. Thence they marched to Long Creek Bridge, an express came from General Caswell
to march back to Moore’s Creek Bridge and make entrenchment. Another express came to
march up to Corbett’s Ferry on the Black River but they had only reached Colvin’s Creek
when another express arrived ordering them back to Moore’s Creek Bridge because the Tories
had crossed the Black River. A company of Minute Men, under the command of Captain
Richard Clinton and Lt. Patrick Stewart, met them there and they built an entrenchment a little
further away than the first one.
That evening General Caswell with his army arrived having a few pieces of Artillery on the west
side of the Bridge. That attracted the curiosity of William Ward because he had never seen any
artillery. While viewing the artillery, a flag was brought to General Caswell from the Tories by a
Mr. Haburn, bearing a paper that a Captain Vance asked General Caswell if he might kill the
bearer of the flag and General Caswell shook his head.
Then General Caswell and his army crossed over the bridge and encamped on the east side
of the Bridge. After they crossed, the Bridge was partly taken up (Note: the boards were taken
up and the rails were greased as a way of preventing the Tories from crossing the Bridge.)
The artillery was fixed that night and pointed to the Bridge, that by break of day next morning,
the enemy were firing at us across the creek, that they attempted to cross same, sounding
the bottom of the creek, to ascertain, as was thought, if they could it, and some, to pass
over the Bridge, in which latter, four men succeeded and among them Col McLeod and Capt
Campbell who were killed and the enemy defeated.
William Ward recalled that at that place were General Caswell, General Lillington, Captains
Love, Clinton Bludworth, Ingram and Captain Vance of the artillery. The Tories were
commanded by General McDonald and Col McLeod. After the battle at Moore’s Creek Bridge,
he marched to Wilmington NC and soon after a company of Minute Men commanded by
Captain French from New River in Onslow County arrived there. He remained in Wilmington
for a short time and from thence marched to Lockhart’s or Lockwood Folly, a creek in
Brunswick County. When they arrived at Lockhart’s Folly where they had been told there
were Tories. They arrived to find none. Thence they returned to Wilmington. On his return
to Wilmington, his term of service expired and he was discharged.
Then he entered a second term of service under Captain David Williams, who had been a
regular officer, and Lt John Armstrong in the fall of 1776 when he was a volunteer light
horseman, that he embodied at Duplin old Court house. He engaged to serve this tour for
three months from thence he marched toward Wilmington. In his march to Wilmington he
fell in with part of Captain John Moultin’s company; that the British, then had possession of
Wilmington, the infantry under Major Craig and the cavalry under Captain Gorden; that during
this tour he was traversing and scouting the country around Wilmington; that a gallery, laden
with enemy, was decoyed ashore and few of them killed, besides one badly wounded who
died next day. At the end of this service, he was discharged by his Capt Daniel Williams.
He entered a third term of service under the command again of Captain Daniel Williams and
Lt. John Armstrong. He marched again to the vicinity of Wilmington where he traversed the
country round about Wilmington where the enemy were still in that place.
He entered a fourth tour of service under Captain Daniel Williams and Lt Thomas James. On
his march toward Wilmington, he fell in with a company of light horsemen commanded by
Captain Thomas Wright at a place known as Big Bridge. Before he got to Big Bridge, a
skirmish had happened at that place between the New Hanover Militia and the enemy. After
they arrived in the vicinity of Wilmington, he and about 42 others employed for about twelve
days and nights, almost constantly, upon the enemy’s lines reconnoitering them. In this
time two British dragoons were captured. Captain Williams detached two others and this
applicant to guard the prisoners on the way to Captain McClammy’s about fourteen miles
from Wilmington on the sound.
The next day Col Young told him that he must go with him again upon the British lines and
that Col Young wouldn’t give this applicant and a fellow soldier names John Ward for ten
men that he didn’t know. This applicant was then very much fatigued and his horse much
wearied, very poor and had a very sore back and he didn’t think it safe to go upon the British
line in that condition. He told Col Young that if he did go, Col Young must furnish the
applicant with a fresh horse and Col Young replied “that could not be done,” and that the
applicant said he would go confined if he did not get a fresh horse and Col Young said he
would put the applicant under guard; the applicant became vexed and went to Captain
William Dickson, commander of the Duplin Militia and the applicant asked couldn’t he send
his horse home and enter the service of the infantry, to which Capt Dickson said, “I could”
that he was enrolled in the infantry where he served out his term of three months.
He entered a fifth term of service under Captain Daniel Williams for three months as a light
horseman. When the company started on their march, he was so indisposed that he was
unable to go with them and as soon as he recovered he followed on and overtook them in
South Carolina at a place called the Four Holes. When he came upon them, they had
captured twenty Tories and six British. He remembers this was in the fall because the
pumpkins were ripe. He and others, about 10 in number, were detached with the prisoners
to New Bern. After this he returned to Duplin and was again a volunteer.
His sixth term of service was under Captain William Hooks of the Duplin militia where he
engaged for two months. He was employed during this tour in traversing Duplin County and
part of Wayne, sometimes in pursuit of a company of Tories on Neuse River commanded by
Dinkins and Hines; that this company killed two respectable young men on Neuse River Viz
Blackshear and Franks. Their principal object in this tour was to protect the inhabitants
from the cruelties and depredation of the Tories.
His seventh term was served under Captain Michael Johnson Kenan at which time he was
engaged for two months traversing Duplin County in quest of the Tories and in protecting
the inhabitants from their ravages and depredations. He entered an eighth term of service
under Col Thomas Rutledge and Captain Thomas Hooks for a term of three months.
Since dangers had subsided, much of his company were dismissed early. With his
company he marched to Jumping Run, about two miles below Wilmington where they
threw up entrenchments. There were two Frenchmen who were regular officers viz Col
Malmady and Major DeBaron who selected seventy men and this applicant to go with their
mounted infantry and seventy mounted men called Knock-em-down men armed with pistols
and whiteoak staff. From Jumping Run he marched with them to Harrison’s Creek with runs
into the North East and while at Harrison’s Creek he heard that Lord Cornwallis and Colonel
Tarlton, with their forces, were in Wilmington. This was in the spring of the year before Lord
Cornwallis surrendered in the fall. Wile at Harrison’s Creek, a detachment, under the
command of Major DeBaron, marched down to Wilmington to reconnoiter the enemy that
from Harrison’s Creek he marched to Rutherford’s Mill, across Holly Shelter Creek which
runs into North East. He remained there three days, making entrenchment, expecting Lord
Cornwallis and Col Tarlton with their army along that way. Two Frenchmen fell in with them,
one an officer Capt Farrowgood, who took command of the artillery, there being two pieces
found there when he arrived. He learned that these two Frenchmen had been at the Battle
of Guilford Courthouse. From thence he marched to Limestone Bridge, which is across the
North East and he remained there two or three days and he had been promised that he
would be discharge here as his three months for which he had been drafted were about to
expire, but was not, the officers saying they would discharge the companies after they
marched to Kingston in Lenoir County. Thence he marched to Kingston and was discharged
April 29 of that year.
Soon after his return from Kingston, Cornwallis and his army passed through Duplin, about
fifteen days after his return aforesaid, hearing that a body of Tories, consisting of one
hundred and fifty two foot soldiers and thirteen light horsemen were in Coharie, about two
miles from Sampson Court House, he rode all night collecting a company to go against
them; that seventy-two light horsemen collected and embodied at Sampson Court House
or rather where Sampson Court House now is and were commanded by Daniel Williams
and David Dodd, that General Kenan, Major Abraham Moultin and Curtis Ivey were in the
company. They marched to Mehan’s Bridge on Coharie where we came upon the trail of
the Tories, pursued them and fell in with them at Poitevint’s race paths, where there was
a skirmish in which we had two wounded, they retreated, we pursued them and overtook
them at Robinson’s swamp where there was another skirmish, that they retreated and we
pursued them on across Black River just below where Newkirk’s Bridge now is, where they
escaped from us. This service was for about five or six days as a volunteer.
Transcribed from A History of Alfred and Elizabeth Robinson Ward , Their Antecedents and
Peggy Ward Rawheiser
January 31, 2007