William Mitchell Pension Application

[A verbatim copy, including spelling errors, of a county court transcript written by a court clerk.]

1832 Rutherford County, Tennessee

Declaration in order to obtain the benefit of the act of Congress passed 7th June 1832.

State of Tennessee
Rutherford county

Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for said county open hold for the county aforesaid at the Count house in Murfreesborough. Personally appeared William Mitchell resident citizen of said county and stated age sixty eight years in open court before Varner D. Cowen, Samuel Jones & Henry Trott Justices of the said Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions the same being a Court of Record now setting who being first duly sworn according to law, doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to attain the benefits of the act of Congress passed June the 7th 1832. That he entered the service of the United States under the following named officers and served as here in stated — That he entered the service 1st on the first of July 1780 at the age of sixteen years as a volunteer militia man at Hillsboro, North Carolina under the command of Capt John Graves, Lieut. Sea and Ensign John McMullen in a Regiment commanded by Col. Collier and attached to General Butlers Brigade then called a division. General Butler was the highest in command when he rendezvoued at Hillsboro. Then marched with the Division aforesaid to Linches [Lynches] Creek in South Carolina. Genl Gates head quarters — passing Haw river at Butlers ford — the Yadkin at Moores ferry — then down the Yadkin to the mouth of Rock river and encamped at Galsons [Colson’s] a tory several days in consequence of a great flood in the river. We crossed Rock river within a few hundred yards of its confluence with the Yadkin and then over passed no remarkable place until we joined the main army at Gates head quarters. Nor did we pass any town of note [during] the time we left Hillsboro until we arrived at head quarters at Linches Creek South Carolina. At the Head quarters aforesaid he became acquainted with Genl Gates the commander in chief — Generals Decalb, Smallwood & Gist of the regular or Continental Army. He also became acquainted with Col Porterfield of the Regular army who fell at Gates defeat and Col Armand who commanded the horse.

In a day or two after he joined the main army the whole army moved on toward Rugeleys Mills at which place the army lay several days. And at dark on the 15th day of August 1780 struck our tents and took up our line of march for Camden distance 13 miles where the main British army lay and when the advance of our army had marched about half way they met the British army in the dim of night and a severe and sore conflict ensued and being overpowed in numbers were compelled to retreat back to the main army where we lay upon our arms until day light. The British army had done the same and about sun rise on the 16th day of August 1780 the two armies met in strife of arms and the issue is but too well known to the history of our country. Gates was defeated — the army broken up routed and dispersed over the country and the militia with heavy hearts and cast down spirits made their way to their respective homes as fast as they could. This declarant stood at home about 8 or 10 days when Col. Williams of South Carolina who had been drove from home by the Tories raised a Regiment in Caswell county North Carolina of the North Carolinians and the refugees from Georgia and South Carolinians then the declarant and his brother David joined said Regiment —which was of mounted gunmen, in Capt John McMullens company of which said David Mitchell was Lieutenant and Robt Culberson ensign. This regiment was raised to go on an expedition against the tories in South Carolina in Col Williams immediate neightbourhood. On our march we crossed the Yadkin near Salisbury and passed through Salisbury to Sherys [Sherrill’s] ford on the Cataba river then up thru the upper part of the state of North Carolina (an entire tory region almost) and we passed along a small distance from the foot of the blue Ridge towards South Carolina and while on that march we heard that Major Ferguson had embodied about two thousand tories. We also heard that Cols Campbell & Shelby with their regiments were coming across the mountain to join Col Cleveland to attack Ferguson. Col Williams Regiment also marched forward to unite with them and in Oct 1780 we all united near Gilbertown an abrasive village near the South Carolina line We then made a forced march to overtake Ferguson at a place called the Fish dam ford where we understood he was encamped but when we arrived there we heard he had moved his camp for Kings Mountain. We then doubled our diligence because we heard he was aiming to join the main army at Charlotte. We arrived at the foot of Kings Mountain in sight of the enemy about two hours of sun in the evening and immediately surrounded the mountain and the battle commenced & in which our Col James Williams fell. The results of this battle is known to the country by history and need not be here stated. Then next day we took up our retreat in consequence of having learned that Tarleton was on his way to attack us. We made a powerful march in consequence of which we lost many of the prisoners. We then turned our course along the foot of the range of the blue Ridge and recrossed the Yadkin at the Shallow ford and took our prisoners to the Moravian Town where they were guarded for a long time & in consequence of Col Campbells Shelbys & Seviers regiments had left us we were detained several weeks after the expiration of this tour designed for the expedition at first. This declarant will here state that by the term of North Carolina a service of Six weeks in the horse when the Soldiers would furnish his own horse should entitle him to a credit for three months served in the foot and that this declarant served on that expedition ten or eleven weeks — This declarant will here states that two or three days after Fergusions defeat a general Court martial was held of the principal officers of which Col Campbell was the President for the trial of the most wicked tories such as had murdered and burned down houses; and ten of them were convicted and were executed. One of them made his escape by getting his raw hide thongs off of his arms and legs and crawling between the feet of the great crowd that came to see them executed — he then rose up and ran and the guard durst not fire upon him for fear of killing some of their own people; none of the names of those executed are now recollected but that of Col Mills who had been a very bad man. At the Moravian town the troops were kept as guard over the troy prisoners until the most malignant were sent to jail and the least guilty paroled. We were then discharged and sent home.

Some short time after this declarant was [illegible] home some of the officers attached to quarter Masters department requested him to aid them in the duty of their station which he acceded to and did and then until sometime in January 1781 he volunteered again as a militiaman in Capt John McMullens Company David Mitchell Lieut and afterwards joined the main army. McMullen went home and Capt Shadrick Hargis was placed at the head of the Company. The head quarters of the army under Genl Green was at or near Haw river. We then marched up the river to Troublesome bridge NC crossed there and marched up into the neighbourhood of Guilford Courthouse. Cornwallaces army then lay at New Garden church about 8 or 9 miles from Guilford courthouse. Genl Green had been maneuvering for sometime before. He then felt himself strong enough for an engagement and he took his station on [illegible] piece of rising ground. The wide [illegible] of the courthouse was at the East end of an Old quakers farm whose name I have been informed was Benbow. And the battle commenced about ten oclock on the 15th day of March 1781 where was fought that might have been called a drawn battle for Cornwallace made a precipitous retreat towards Wilmington and Genl Green withdrew to the Iron works on Haw river or a branch thereof. At which place this declarant was discharged a few days after the battle and he and his brother Lieut David Mitchell returned home to Caswell county North Carolina at which place he resided for a considerable time before and during the war and for several years thereafter. After this declarant returned home he was again engaged in the quarter Masters Department on various duties until another requisition was made to pursue the [illegible] Fanning who had captured Hillsboro with his Tories and taken and destroyed most of the valuable papers and public documents and had taken all the state officers prisoner, Governor, Assembly &c.

This declarant entered this expedition in Capt McMullens company of mounted gunmen, Col William Moor regiment and Genl Butlers Division. A day or two before we got up with Butler a sharp conflict took place between our troops under the command of Col. Maben (who was a regular officer who on being ordered from one place to another had called to see his farther who lived in Orange and he took command at the request of the troops the principal field officers Taylor and Butler being absent upon some other duty however they were [illegible] and the Tories under Fanning at Lindleys mill where some thirty or forty of the tories were killed and several of our little force were also killed and wounded. The tories retreated before our main army could came up with them — Butler got up within within a mile of them and right before he knew it, when he learned his new position he became desperately alarmed, for he was a poor officer, and broke up his camp and marched off at right angles from Fannings route and continued his forced march all night and until late the next day when we crossed the Cape fear river at Everatts ford Where we encamped several days. Butler there turned our course immediately down the Cape Fear river for Wilmington to Browns Ferry on Cape Fear river where we crossed over and there encamped two or three days receiving reinforcements of Col William Moors Regiment. Tho our company was known and understood as being part of Moors Regiment & yet it did not join him until we crossed the river at Browns ferry Cape Fear. Butler broke up his camp believing himself strong enough to capture Fanning and set out on a forced march to overtake him although Fanning had received a reinforcement of about 300 british soldiers under the command of Major Craig. We over took him at Livingston swamp. This declarant brother Lieut David Mitchell was officer of the day. The action was brought on under very auspicious circumstance. Butler took another panic supposing Fanning to have artillery ordered our Soldiers retreat; they have cannon and we cannot stand them and he, Taylor & Moore ran off with all who pursue their flight and but for the [illegible] and disinterested services of Col. Robert Mebane of whom this declarant already spoke the whole army would have probably cut to pieces at the swamp. But he rallied one hundred & fifty or two hundred of the troops and put them in order of battle and resisted the pursuit of Fanning who finding that a hard [illegible] conflict had again ensued supposed that Butler’s whole force had fallen back to that point intentionally and thus he was induced to fall back in his turn and night closed the scene. We then traveled 18 miles before we overtook our field officers’ who were encamped in the plantation of Capt. Lucas where the depleted army encamped several days. We then took up the line of march for home and when we got in the neighbourhood of Fayetteville, then called Cross Creek, this declarant attached himself to Col. Taylor’s Regiment from Granville County who was then encamped near Fayetteville and in a short time the Col. Heard that there was a small detachment of Tories encamped on Little River some 25 or 30 miles off Col. Taylor determined they should be broke up there and Capt. Kell (who was then a private) was chosen to conduct the expedition and volunteers were beat up for and some thirty, forty, or fifty volunteered among whom was this declarant; a forced march was made. the Tories were found and just as we were in the act of surrounding them they discovered us and broke for a swamp. We fired on them as they ran and took one of them that we executed and took the most of their arms and all their horses most of which had been stolen before from the Whigs and a good deal of plunder. We then returned to camp where this declarant received sometime [illegible]. He was then permitted to go home; and in one day after his arrival at home he substituted in the place of William Waite who was then a quarter master in Col. Moore’s Regiment where he remained until the army was discharged finally and the war closed. That he was discharged at Hillsboro in Granville County North Carolina by Capt. Vincent Harrison about the first of November 1781.

This declarant hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pension roll of the agency of any State.

Sworn to & Subscribed this 23rd of August, 1832. [signed] Wm Mitchell


BRIEF in the case of William Mitchell
County of Rutherford in the State of Tennessee
(Act of 7th June, 1832)

1.       Was the declaration mad before a Court of a Judge? Court

2.       If before a Judge, does it appear that the applicant is disabled by bodily infirmity?

3.       Now old is he? 68

4.       State his service, as directed in the form annexed.

5.       In what battles was en engaged? Gates’ defeat, Kings Mountain, Guilford Cr. House, Livingston’s swamp

6.       Where did he reside when he entered the service? Caswell Cty. N. C.

7.       Is his statement supported by living witnesses, by documentary proof, by traditionary evidence, by incidental evidence, or by the rolls? traditionary witness

8.       Are the papers defective as to form or authentication? And if so, in what respect? The declaration is not attached to the Clerk’s seal as required.

I Certify that the foregoing statement and the answers agree with the evidence in the case above mentioned.

[signed] F. Waugh, Examining Clerk.