Non-copyrightable portions were transcribed from The Revolution Remembered, Eyewitness Accounts of the War for Independence, edited by John C. Dann, where additional comments will be found. It is presented by Dann as having been a literal transcription from an image of the original and we accept it as such.
Revolutionary Pension Roll, in Vol. xiv, Sen. Doc. 514, 23rd Cong., 1st sess., 1833-34, per Owens' Revolutionary Soldiers in Alabama.
Submitted by Charles Baxley. Transcribed by John Robertson.
To the best of my recollection, in the fall of the year 1779 as a private I entered the service of the United States. It was a company of cavlary that I first entered under the command of Capt. Minor Smith. This company composed a part of a regiment of cavalry (the number of which I cannot remember). The major of the regiment was Charles Polk (called "Devil Charley") of Mecklenburg County of North Carolina. The colonel who commanded this regiment was also called Colonel Smith. I do not know his given name. I lived in Surry County of North Carolina at that time and believe it was in October of the year above stated that I entered. My term of service was for three months as follows. I well remember that at this time Lords Rawdon and Cornwallis were said to be in Wilmington, and the Tories had become greatly encouraged down in that quarter. We first proceeded from Surry County to Salem, from to ten to fifteen miles, thence in the direction of Wilmington, a distance of perhaps near two hundred miles. Information was received by our officers from a Colonel Leonard who resided in the neighborhood which was called the "truce ground" that there was to be a large assemblage of the Tories in his neighborhood. We passed near Wilmington. After much fatique and hardship in crossing swamps, lakes, etc., we approached the place at which the Tories were to assemble by two different routes and from opposite directions. Whether our arrival was too early or had been suspected by the Tories is uncertain. We found but seven men at the place, all of whom were killed. There was a great multitude of women there. We moved a few miles from that place and encamped during the night, which was dark and rainy. We were attacked suddenly by a large body of Tories, and we were warmly engaged for a short time. After the first confusion was over, we were orderd to charge, dark as it was, except for the light of the guns. We were successful in driving them back. A few were killed and wounded on both sides. We lost some of our horses but succeeded in recovering most of them next day. We also killed one or two of the enemy next day. This was near a lake, which was called Waccamaw, which we swam several time. I think I was now near twenty-three years old. What I have above stated is the principal part of my service that was important during my first three months' service. Our return was by way of Fayetteville, then called Cross Creek. At this place we were discharged. It is rather my belief that I had a written discharge. If I had, I have lost it and know not how.
Four or five months after my first term expired, I was again and after I had moved to Caswell County in the same state, called into service as a private in the North Carolina militia, a foot soldier. The lieutenant of the company was named [Dann estimates the name as "Borneau"]. The captain was named Odom. The name of the colonel of the regiment to which I now belonged I do not remember, for we marched in a single company from Caswell County. I marched from the upper part of North Carolina down to Fayetteville. At this place we were put under the command of General Butler. This was a distance of sixty or eighty miles. We were thence marched to Charlotte in North Carolina, a distance by the route of the march one hundred miles. We here joined the command of General Gates, a regular officer, also of General Dickson. De Kalb also had command here of the regular soldiers. We next marched to Rugely's Mills (the name of a notorious old Tory colonel) in South Carolina, perhaps a distance of seventy or eighty miles, from Rugely's Mills, five or six miles further to a place called Sutton's as well as I remember. This was not far from Camden, where the British were under Rawdon and Cornwallis.
The two armies came near each other at Sutton's about twelve or one o'clock in the night (this was in the year 1780). The pickets fired several rounds before day. I well remember everything that occurred the next morning: I remember that I was among the nearest to the enemy; that a man named John Summers was my file leader; that we had orders to wait for the word to commence firing; that the militia were in front and in a feeble condition at that time. They were fatigued. The weather was warm excessively. They had been fed a short time previously on molasses entirely. I can state on oath that I believe my gun was the first gun fired, notwithstanding the orders, for we were close to the enemy, who appeared to maneuver in contempt of us, and I fired without thinking except that I might prevent the man opposite from killing me. The discharge and loud roar soon became general from one end of the lines to the other. Amongst other things, I confess I was amongst the the first that fled. The cause of that I cannot tell, except that everyone I saw was about to do the same. It was instantaneous. There was no effort to rally, no encouragement to fight. Officers and men joined in the flight. I threw away my gun, and reflecting I might be punished for being found without arms, I picked up a drum, which gave forth such sounds when touched by twigs I cast it away. When we had gone, we heard the roar of guns still, but we knew not why. Had we known, we might have returned. It was that portion of the army commanded by de Kalb fighting still. De Kalb was killed. General Dickson was wounded in the neck and a great many killed and wounded even on the first firing. After this defeat, many of the disperced troups proceeded to Hillsboro in North Carolina. I obtained a furlough from General Dickson and had permission to return home a short time. This last tour was for the space of three months and truly laborious.
Not long after the defeat of General Gates at Camden, I think near three months, General Green, a regular officer, came from towards the north. This was also, as well as I remember, in 1780. I entered the service again under Captain Odom, being again drafted. I do not know what the colonel's name was, I think Colonel Moore however, and was placed under the command of General Greene. This was fought at some old fields turned out and surrounded by broken fences. General Greene having divided into three divisions, behind one of these fences placed first a division of select riflement; second, the militia were stationed in the rear in the woods; last, and still further in their rear to prevent a retreat like General Gates's were placed the regulars. This was a great battle. Both sides fought until they were willing to cease, but we had the advantage, for the last division were just beginning to bear heavy on them, and the British had to give back. These were times of great suffering. We had but little to eat, as little to wear, feeble and worn down. I was during this term of my service with General Greene at the battle at Camden, or near it. Through carelessness or otherwise, the tired soldiers were suffered to loiter and wash at the River Wateree, and in the meantime a drummer belonging to some of the regiments under General Greene deserted, entered Camden, and let the British known our condition. They came out upon us, and we had to fight hard and finally were compelled to give way. Shortly after this, my last term of service expired. To the best of my recolleciton, I served and was subject to constant service for nine months if not more. If I ever had written discharges, I have lost them, but my recollection is indistinct as to that. I never did receive the amount of pay I was entitled to. The small amount I did receive was in Continental money, which turned out to be of no value. I served as a private the whole time. I have no documentary evidence of my service. I know of no person now living whose testimony I can procure or who can testify as to my service.