I’m sharing one of life’s curves with you today. My sixth-great-grandfather, James Meadows, was a veteran of the American Revolution, a Virginia native who had moved to North Carolina.
Until October, I knew nothing of his existence. I only knew that my Great-aunt Tot, my maternal Great-grandmother Adie’s sister (real name, Lottie Hampton) from Abingdon, Ill., in her usual humorous way, had chuckled about belonging to the Daughters of the American Revolution.
I also discovered three years ago that I had about a fourth cousin on my father’s side of the family, Craig Hileman, who is an attorney in Delaware with a passion for genealogical research. Craig took my memory of Aunt Tot to discover James Meadows and generations both before and since him.
Craig and the Internet are marvelous things.
But, without further explanations, I’ll share James Meadows’ court testimony in Illinois as an 80-year-old man trying to obtain the war pension to which he was entitled:
Southern Campaign American Revolution Pension Statements. Pension Application of James Meadows: R7082. State of Illinois, Knox Circuit Court, Knox County, May 19, 1835.
That he entered the service as a private under Captain John Rutherford of the North Carolina militia in the month of April in the year 1778 and was marched to the town of Salisbury, and there was stationed three months in Rutherford’s company guarding the British and Tory prisoners then kept in that town, but the company was separated from any battalion or regiment—that he cannot give the names of any of the field officers.
He served this three months under an engagement made by his father with Capt. Rutherford, at the town of Salisbury, as a guard, and at the expiration of this period he was discharged, and returned to the hands of his father, who lived in the county of Rowan in the state of North Carolina.
He remained with his father about six days, and then in the month of July of the same year, turned out a volunteer for 18 months under Capt. Joseph Sharpe, who commanded a company of minute men, and was attached to the regiment of Col. David Caldwell, and was engaged in guarding and patrolling the county of Rowan, and watching the movements of the Tories, dispersing their forces and destroying their military preparations, and guarding the inhabitants from their depredations.
During this time he was in no battle or general engagement, but had frequent skirmishes with the Tories, and took a good many prisoners, which term of 18 months he faithfully served in active and toilsome service, and was, at the close of the said term of 18 months, discharged by Capt. Sharpe without any writing.
He then returned to the hands of his father and there remained until the month of July 1780 (sic) when he enlisted for the term of three months under Captain William Armstrong, who commanded a company on an expedition against the Cherokee Indians on the frontiers south of the Catawba River. They marched in the summer and crossed the Catawba and there they were met by a company of North Carolina troops, commanded by a Captain Griffin.
Captain Armstrong took the command, and marched them against the Cherokee Town, and destroyed it, and took a number of prisoners, and then stationed themselves there, destroyed the Indian crops and then marched northward with the intention of joining the Northern army at Brandywine, but after having marched four days they received orders to march back to Rowan County to meet a large body of Tories who had risen in that county.
They then immediately marched for Rowan County under the command of Major Armstrong, then so called as he commanded both companies, and having met the troops under Major Brandon (possibly Col. William Brandon), they marched to Ramshaurs mill, and there encountered and defeated the tories (sic: Battle of Ramseur’s Mill, June 20, 1780). Here Major Armstrong was killed.
This battle being over, he was attached to the regiment commanded by Col. Joseph McDowell, and served the remaining part of his term of three months and was discharged by McDowell, and went home to the hands of his father in Rowan County.
Having remained at home until Cornwallis landed in the south (sic: see note below), he was drafted for the term of three months in a company commanded by Capt. David Caldwell, attached to the regiment of Col. William Moore, and was marched down the country toward Charleston, to a place called Cross Creek (now Fayetteville, N.C.), where they lay in ambush for Cornwallis’ army, and fired on them, and retreated, and continued to annoy them upon their march from there to Guilford, having frequent skirmishes with his out posts, and there, being attached to the brigade of General (John) Butler and division of Major General (Nathanael) Greene, was engaged at the battle of Guilford Courthouse (March 15, 1781), which battle being over an express arrived desiring succor against a party of Tories who had risen under Tory leaders by the name of Fannon (sic: David Fanning) and (John) Elrod in the counties of Chatham and Randolph.
He was marched in the company of Capt. Osborne or Major Osborne, which was attached to the regiment of Col. John Moore, and having marched to Chatham, they were joined by the regiments of Col. (Elijah) Isaacs and Col. Paisley (John Peasley), and defeated the said Fannon and Elrod. The public arms were then called for when he relinquished his gun, and was discharged by Capt. Osborne for want of arms, and who certified the time he served in the expedition from Guilford against Fannon and Elrod, but who had no knowledge of the time of service under Capt. Caldwell before the battle of Guilford. But he stated that he served out his full time of three months as his term was within a few days of being out at the battle of Guilford. After he was discharged from said term he was never again in the service, having served two years and three months.
He further states that owing to his age and infirmity and his being wholly blind, if he had any written or documentary evidence, he is unable to find it; and that he knows of no person by whom he can prove his services.
Question 1: Where and in what year were you born?
Answer: I was born in Halifax County in the state of Virginia, but it is impossible for me now at my advanced age to recollect the year exactly but think it was in the year 1755.
Question 2: Have you any record of your age, and if so where is it?
Answer: I have no record of my age. It was recorded in my father’s Bible, but after the war his house was burnt, and the Bible containing this record was at the same time, and by the same means, destroyed.
Question 3: Where were you living when called into service, where have you lived since the Revolutionary War, and where do you now live?
Answer: I was living with my father in Rowan County, N.C, during the war. I afterward moved with him to Burke County in said state, and afterward in the year 1795 moved to and settled in Clarke County, Ky., then to Wayne County, Ky., then in 1819 to Warren County, Ky., and in 1833 moved to Warren County, Ill., where I now live.
Question 4: How were you called into service; were you drafted, did you volunteer, or were you a substitute? And if a substitute, for whom?
Answer: The first time that I was in service was by virtue of an engagement made by my father with Capt. Rutherford. For the second term of my service I volunteered. The third time I was enlisted and the forth drafted, but I never served as a substitute for any person.
Question 5: State the names of some of the regular officers who were with the troops where you served, such continental and militia regiments as you can recollect, and the general circumstances of your service?
Answer: I now recollect to have known of the regular officers generals Greene and Butler and (Daniel) Morgan who were with the troops where I served. The names of the continental and militia regiments I do not recollect. I have been a long time deprived of sight, and consequently not able to refresh my recollection from history, and the details of revolutionary occurrences have faded from my memory.
The most important circumstances of my service were the following: guarding prisoners at Salisbury; the battles of Ramsower’s mill and Guilford Courthouse and the expedition against the Cherokee Indians and the destruction of their town.
Question 6: Did you ever receive a discharge from the service; and if so by whom was it given and what has become of it?
Answer: I think from one tour of service I had a written discharge. From the others I had not. At the time I was in the service I was unmarried, and made my home with my father, and have no doubt the discharge was destroyed at the time his house was burnt.
Question 7: State the names of the persons to whom you are known in your present neighborhood, and who can testify as to your character for veracity, and their belief of your services as a soldier of the revolution.
Answer: Josiah Wilcher, Charles L. Greer, Major Peter Butler, Isaac Murphy, Joseph Wallace, are all my neighbors and acquaintances, and I have no doubt will testify to my character for veracity, and their belief of my services as a soldier of the revolution.
• John Rutherford’s rank was major at the time he was killed at the Battle of Eutaw Springs, S.C. on Sept. 8, 1781. Meadows implies that Cornwallis landed in the south in the latter half of 1780. Cornwallis actually landed at Charleston, S.C., on Feb. 15, 1780, but it was in the summer of that year that he advanced toward North Carolina.
• On Nov. 11, 1843, Jane Meadows, 77, applied for a pension stating that she married James Meadows on Dec. 19, 1787. He died May 9, 1838.