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Sketches of Virginia
Chapter IX. - Settlements on the Holston


The enterprise and bravery of the pioneers of Washington County, Virginia, gave birth to events of romantic interest in politics, religion and war. Ex-Governor Campbell, near Abingdon, thus writes:

Montpalm, Nov. 12th, 1351.

Dear Sir:—I failed to take my intended journey to Tennessee, and will now endeavor to answer some of your inquiries, in your letter of the Tth of October. The first emigration to the Holston Valley, was about the year 1T65 — In that year John Campbell explored the country, and purchased land for his father David Camp^ bell and himself. The first settlers were from Augusta, Frederick, and the other counties along the Valley of Virginia — from the upper counties of Maryland and from Pennsylvania, were mostly descendants from Irish stock, and were generally Presbyterians, where they had any religious opinions — a very large proportion were religious and many were members of the Church. There were however some families, and among the most wealthy, that were wild and dissipated in their habits. I send you enclosed by the same mail that carries this letter, a copy of the call to the Rev. Charles Cummings, signed by one hundred and thirty-eight heads of families. In my early life I knew personally, many of those whose names are signed to it — and I knew nearly all of them from character. They were a most respectable body of men; were all whigs in the revolution, and nearly all — probably every one of them, performed military service against the Indians—and a large portion of them against the British, in the battles of King’s Mountain, Guilford court-house, and other actions in North and South Carolina. The Campbell family, from which I am descended, were originally from the Highlands of Scotland, and emigrated to Ireland about the latter end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth. John Campbell, my great-grandfather, with a family of ten or twelve, children, came to America in 1726, and settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He had six sons —three of whom, Patrick, Robert and David, emigrated with him from Pennsylvania, to what was then Orange, but afterwards Augusta County, about the year 1730. Patrick was the oldest child and grandfather of General William Campbell of the Revolution. David was the youngest, and was my grandfather. He married in Augusta County, Mary Hamilton, and had seven sons — John, Arthur, James, William, David, Robert and Patrick. All except William, who died when a young man, emigrated to Holston; John, Robert and Arthur before their father, the other three with him. The other sons of John Campbell had families, and their descendants are scattered over many of the States of the West. William B. Campbell, a young man and lately elected Governor of Tennessee, is my nephew, and is the grandson of Margaret Campbell, one of the daughters of my grandfather, David Campbell. The Edmiston, or Edmondson family, that came to Holston, was a very large and respectable one, numbering some ten or fifteen families. They were zealous whigs, and William the oldest brother was Major in the regiment from this county, that behaved so gallantly in-the battle of King’s Mountain. Two of his brothers, Captain Andrew Edmiston and Lieut. Robert Edmiston, and a cousin Captain William . Edmiston, were killed in that battle. The Vance, Newell and Blackburn connection was very large and respectable. The Rev. Gideon Blackburn once of Tennessee, and one of the most distinguished pulpit orators of his time, was of the same Blackburn stock. Col. Samuel Newell, son of Samuel Newell who signs the call, was a distinguished officer in the battle of King’s Mountain and a man of fine talents. He died in Kentucky. The Buchanan family was a numerous one, all worthy people. There were four brothers of the Davises and three of the Craigs, all very worthy men — also several brothers of the Lowreys and Montgomerys, equally worthy. William Christian was from near where Fincastle now stands — was a man of fine intellect, and distinguished in western warfare. Benjamin Logan was the same man who went to Kentucky, and became a distinguished man there. There are on the list many others whose families have done well in the western country. I will omit at present going into more detail, and indeed I do not know that I can give you any information further that would deserve your notice. I have not .given you any particular account of my immediate ancestors, supposing it would not be suitable from me.

Most respectfully, your obedient servant,

David Campbell.

A call from the united congregations of Ebbing and Sinking Spring, on Holston’s rive. Fincastle County, to be presented to the Rev. Charles Cummings, minister of the gospel, at the Rev. Presbytery of Hanover, when sitting at the Tinkling Spring:

Worthy and dear Sir—We being in very destitute circumstances for want of the ordinances of Christ’s house statedly administered amongst us ; many of us under very distressing spiritual languishments; and multitudes perishing in our sins for want of the bread of life broken among us ; our Sabbaths too much profaned, or at least wasted in melancholy silence at home, our hearts and hands discouraged, and our spirits broken with our mournful condition, so that human language cannot sufficiently paint. Having had the happiness, by the good Providence of God, of enjoying part of your labors to our abundant satisfaction, and being universally well satisfied by our experience of your ministerial abilities, piety, literature, prudence and peculiar agreeableness of your qualifications to us in particular as a gospel minister—we do, worthy and dear sir, from our very hearts, and with the most cordial -affection and unanimity agree to call, invite and entreat you to undertake the office of a pastor among us, and the care and charge of our precious souls—and upon your accepting of this our call, we do promise that we will receive' the word of God from your mouth, attend on your ministry, instruction and reproofs, in public arid private, and submit to the discipline which Christ has appointed in his church, administered by you while regulated by the word of God and agreeable to our confession of faith and directory. And that you may give yourself wholly up to the important work of the ministry, we hereby promise to pay unto you annually the sum of ninety pounds from the time of your accepting this our call ; and that we shall behave ourselves towards you with all that dutiful respect and affection that becomes a people towards their minister, using all means within our power to render your life comfortable and happy. We entreat you, worthy and dear sir, to have compassion upon us in this remote part of the world, and accept this our call and invitation to the pastoral charge of our precious and immortal souls, and we shall hold ourselves bound to pray.


Montcalm, Nov. 29, 1851.

Dear Sir—I had the pleasure of receiving by the last mail your letter of the 18th inst.—and on further consideration have concluded to comply with your views. I do not know that what I have written will be worthy of notice, and I am not in sufficient health to revise. You must make what you can of it.

Tours most respectfully, David Campbell.

The Campbells of Holston.

John Campbell, the great ancestor of the Campbells of Holston, came from 'Ireland to America, with a family of five grown sons and several daughters in the year 1726, and first settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. About the year 1730, he removed to what was then Orange, afterwards Augusta County, where he resided until his death; and where his numerous descendants lived for many years. The Campbells above named were the descendants of his oldest son Patrick, and his youngest son David—Patrick had a son Charles, and he a son William, who was the General William Campbell, of the Revolution, and the grand-father of Mrs. Gov. M’Dowell. David, the youngest son of John, married Mary Hamilton, and had a family oi thirteen children, seven sons and six daughters, the youngest of whom was eleven years old when the family removed to Holston—John Campbell, the elder, and all his descendants, were raised and educated after the strictest manner in the Presbyterian church, and a large portion of them became members in that church. In 1765, John, the oldest son of David Campbell and Mary Hamilton, in company with Dr. Thomas Walker, explored the western wilderness, and purchased for his father and himself an ancient survey near the head-waters of the Holston, called the Royal Oak — and a few years afterwards the family removed to it. John and Arthur, the two oldest sons, preceded their father, and accompanied by one sister, Margaret, and making improvements. The father and mother then followed, accompanied by their sons James, David, Robert, and Patrick—and daughters Mary who was then married to William Lochart, and Martha, Sarah and Ann, single. In a few years after this removal Margaret, who had been a pioneer with her two oldest brothers, married David Campbell, the pioneer who erected Campbell’s station fifteen miles below Knoxville, Tennessee. James lost his eye-sight with the small-pox, and died at 50 years of age—John, Arthur, David, Robert and Patrick, were active men and rendered some service to their country. John Campbell, the oldest son of David, was born in 1741, and received a good English and mathematical education. He was raised a farmer, inured to hard labor from boyhood, and accustomed to Indian warfare. He came to Holston when twenty-five or six years of age:—and shared in nearly all the campaigns against the Indians until the close of the revolution. He >was a Lieutenant in Wm. Campbell’s company in Col. Christian’s regiment against the Shawnees in 1774. He commanded a company, and was second in command in the battle of the Long Island flats, of Holston, in July 1776, where his company sustained the centre charge of the Indian chief Dragon-canoe, made with such boldness that the Indians for a few minutes, were actually intermixed with his men—and where the victory over the Indians was most decisive. He also commanded a company in October of that year, under Col. Wm. Christian against the Cherokee towns, and up to the year 1781, he was in almost constant service. In 1778, he was appointed clerk of Washington County, which office he held until 1824, being forty-six years. His great fondness for farming and a rural life induced him many years before his death to place his office under the charge of a deputy and to remove to a farm. Here for more than thirty years he enjoyed himself in tranquillity, surrounded by his wife and children, and receiving and entertaining educated strangers, or old acquaintances who often called upon him. Such visits were most frequent from young Presbyterian preachers who were then often passing through the country. I recollect two, John and James Bowman, from North Carolina, of whom he was very fond as worthy good men and agreeable companions. They often called on him. He died in December, 1825, in the 85th year of his age. Arthur, the next brother, was a talented and distinguished man ; and a very good sketch of him may be found in How’s History and Antiquities of Virginia, under the head of Washington County. In the sketch there are one or two small errors. He died in his 69th year—and he came first to Holston with his brother John.

David, the fourth brother of those who came to Holston, was educated for the bar, and practised law a few years in Washington County after it was established. He then married, and removed to what afterwards became the State of Tennessee—was first Federal Judge in the Territory, and when the State was formed he was made one of the Judges of their Supreme Court, and held the office for many years. A year or two before his death, which took place in 1812, he was appointed Federal Judge in the Territory, which afterwards formed the State of Alabama, but died of fever, before he removed his family to the country, in the 62d year of his age.

Robert, the next brother, came to Holston in 1771—when nineteen years of age, he made his first military campaign, as a volunteer against the Shawanee Indians in 1774, as is supposed, in the company of Capt. Wm. Campbell. In the summer of 1776, he again volunteered, joined Capt. John Campbell’s company, and acted with distinguished bravery and presence of mind in the battle of the Island Flats. He was also in Christian’s campaign in October, 1776—and in 1780, he was an ensign under Col. Campbell at the battle of King’s Mountain, and distinguished himself in that battle. In December of the same year, he performed another campaign against the Cherokee Indians, under Col. Arthur Campbell. His education was not equal to that of his older brothers, nor^vas his capacity—but he was a brave, active, and patriotic whig, and a man of much energy through life. He acted as a magistrate in Washington County for upwards of thirty years, and until he removed to the vicinity of Knoxville, Tennessee, where he died in 1831, in the 77th year of his age.

Patrick, the youngest brother, performed less military service than the others, and had less capacity. He was a volunteer in the battle of King’s Mountain, and performed his duty well. He remained with his father on the farm and inherited it after his death—married—had a large family of children—and in his old age removed to Williamson County, Tennessee, where he died in about the 80th year of his age. He was a good man through life, with indolent habits and very little energy of character.

Such is a brief sketch of the five brothers, sons of David Campbell, and grand-sons of John Campbell, who emigrated from Ireland.

I have named General Wm. Campbell. His father, Charles Campbell, died in Augusta County—and he removed to Holston with his mother and sisters. The oldest, Elizabeth, married John Taylor, from whom Judge / lien Taylor, of Botetourt, and the Taylors of Montgomery County, descended. The second daughter, Jane, married Thomas Tate. The third daughter, Margaret, married Colonel Arthur Campbell — and the youngest, Ann, married Richard Poston. All had families — and are very respectable.

I intended, before closing the sketch of David Campbell’s family, to have spoken more particularly of his two daughters, Margaret and Ann—as they were both remarkable women, and were both most exemplary Christians and members of the Presbyterian church through life.

Margaret, when a girl of eighteen, accompanied, as I have before stated, her brothers John and Arthur to Holston, and managed their household affairs for two or three years without a murmur, and without, in that time, seeing a single female friend. In two or three years after the removal of her father and mother, she married David Campbell, and in 1781, removed to the country, afterwards forming the State of Tennessee, and in 1784, to the place where her enterprising husband erected first a block-house, and afterwards Campbell's Station. She was a most intelligent, mild, and placid woman; always thoughtful, and always calm and prepared for every emergency. So conspicuous were these traits in her character, whenever any difficulty occurred, or any alarm took place, she was first looked to and consulted, not only by the women in the block-house and Station, but even by the men.

To show this trait, I will relate one instance. On one occasion, when the frontier was quiet and the men had left the block-house, her husband and a hired man were in the field ploughing among the corn, the Indians fired upon them, but doing no damage, they unloosed their horses and made their way to the house. She heard the guns, and suspecting it was from the Indians, collected her little flock of children around her in the house—chained the door—took down a rifle well loaded, and taking her seat calmly awaited the event, expecting every moment to hear the Indians approaching, or the men from the field, if not killed or wounded. In this situation she remained until they arrived. As soon as night came on, they , saddled horses, took up the family, and quietly retreated to White’s Fort, fifteen miles into the settlements.

This excellent lady died, with cancer in the breast, in 1799, at the age of fifty-one, universally beloved and regretted, and lies buried in the Presbyterian Church burying ground near Campbell’s Station. What I have written is communicated by Mrs. Campbell, her youngest daughter, and who was one of the children in the block-house.

Ann the youngest daughter married Archibald Roane, a young lawyer who came from Pennsylvania, and commenced the practice of his profession in the territory afterwards Tennessee. He was, I always understood, a descendant of the Rev. Mr. Roane of Lancaster County, who taught in the Neshaminy Academy after Tennant left it. He first came to Liberty Hall in Rockbridge, I think, and then went to Tennessee. He was a man of fine talents and most exemplary in every respect, and was one of the first Judges elected to the Supreme Court, after the State was formed. In 1801 he was elected Governor of the State — served one term of two years, and was again made a judge, which office he held until his death in 1814. His widow soon after followed to the grave four as promising children as were ever raised in any country, two sons and two daughters — all grown and carried off with consumption — all this she bore with humble Christian fortitude, and ended her own life in the house of her eldest son Dr. James Roane at Nashville, in 1831, in the 71st year of her age.

The other branches of the family of John Campbell the ancestor, removed from Augusta County, very early in the settlement of the western country — some to Kentucky and some to West Tennessee. Patrick, a younger brother of Charles, and uncle of Gen. William Campbell, went to the south of Kentucky, and has left numerous and most respectable descendants.

I will enclose you, in a few days, an account of the battle of King’s Mountain, prepared from the official report of Cols. Campbell, Shelby and Cleveland, and from the testimony of eye-witnesses. A silly jealousy on the part of some of the officers who partook in that victory and of their friends, has induced a perversion of some of the facts, so that the public has never yet seen an entirely correct account. You must accept the foregoing, my health not permitting me to labor very much. .

Yours most respectfully, David Campbell.

Rev. Charles Cummings.

Until his residence in Lancaster County, Virginia, little is known of the early life of the Rev. Charles Cummings, the first minister of the gospel on the Holston. An Irishman by birth, he in early manhood emigrated to America. Whether his classical education was completed before, or after, he left Ireland is uncertain; the time of his emigration is equally unknown. He resided for a length of time in the congregation of the noted James Waddell, D. D., in Lancaster County, Virginia. The Carters, Gordons and others in that congregation were in the habit of employing, as teachers, young gentlemen, of classical education, from the mother country. A number of these became ministers in the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Cummings appeared before Hanover Presbytery at the Stone Meeting House in Augusta, May 3d, 1765. The records say, “the Presbytery intend to encourage Mr. Cummings and appoint him a discourse on the words—Be not desirous of vain glory — to be delivered at discretion; and that he stand extempore trials.” This “discretion” was granted probably on account of the distance he must travel to meet the Presbytery. In November 1765, he met the Presbytery at Providence, Louisa County. On the 7th, the records say, at the house of Mr. Todd, Mr. Charles Cummings delivered a discourse from Galatians 5. 26, according to appointment, and an exegesis on this question — Num justificamus sola fide — which the Presbytery sustains as part of trials: And having examined him on his religious experience, in the Latin and Greek languages, Rhetoric, Logic, Geography, Philosophy, and Astronomy, they sustain his answers to the several questions proposed on these subjects, and appoint him a sermon on Rom. 7th, 9th, and a Lecture on the 23d Psalm, 1st — 4th, to be delivered at our next, as popular trials.” Mr. Samuel Leak at the same time underwent similar examinations and had similar popular trials assigned him.

At Tinkling Spring meeting house, April 17th, 1766, Mr. Cummings delivered a sermon on Rom. 7. 9, and Mr. Leak one on Acts 13. 26, according to appointment, which were sustained as parts of trial. Mr. Leak also delivered a lecture on John 3. 1 — 8, and Mr. Cummings one on Psa. 23. 1 — 5, which were also sustained. These two candidates were examined on some points in divinity; and gave satisfactory answers to the questions proposed therein. On the next day the candidates were licensed, and directed, “to spend their time till our next, in the vacancies in Augusta, Albemarle and Amherst.” At Cub Creek Oct. 15th, 1766, three calls were put in for Mr. Cummings. One from Porks of James, now Lexington and Monmouth, one from D. S. in Albemarle, and one from Major Brown’s meeting house in Augusta. This last he accepted; “and Messrs. Black, Craig, Brown and Rice, with as many other members as can attend, are appointed a Presbytery to meet at Major Brown’s meeting house, the first Wednesday of March next, to receive the trials of Mr. Cummings — viz. a sermon “ on Rom. 10. 4, and a lecture on the 3d Epistle of John throughout, as preparatory to ordination; and if they see fit, to ordain and instal him; at which Mr. Craig is appointed to preside.” The ordination did not take place, only one of the committee named, Mr. Black, attending at the appointed time and place. By order of Presbytery, the ordination took place on May 14th, 1767, the Rev. Messrs. Sankey, Craig, Brown and Rice, with Elders George Moffat, Alexander Walker and John M’Farland being present, Mr. Craig presiding. In April 1772, he applied for a dismission from that Church, on account of its inability to support him. “Both parties avowing that as the only reason for dissolution of the relations.” The Presbytery granted the request, and then recommended to Mr. Cummings to take a tour through the vacancies, and commended him to the brethren of Orange Presbytery, should he travel in their bounds. He also was recommended by the Presbytery at its fall session, Oct. 1772, at D. S., to supply eight Sabbaths on Green Briar and in Tygart’s Valley. At Brown’s meeting house June 2d 1773, a call was presented to Presbytery by Samuel Edmonson, a candidate, from the congregations of Ebbing Spring and Sinking Spring on Holston, for the services of Mr. Cummings, which he accepted. There is no word made of any installation services being appointed or performed. The call was prepared to be presented at the sessions of Presbytery held at Tinkling Spring, in the preceding April, but the presentation was delayed until the intermediate meeting in June.

While residing in the Northern Neck, he was united in marriage with Miss Milly Carter, daughter of John Carter of Lancaster County. Being in the congregation of Dr. Waddell, it is probable that he pursued his theological studies under his care. In his early ministry he became possessed of a valuable library; and appears to have been devoted to his work as a minister of the gospel. His call from the Holston, was signed by one hundred and twenty heads of families, all respectable men, many of whom afterwards became distinguished; a fact as remarkable as true.

The following sketch is from the pen of the ex-Governor of Virginia, David Campbell. Having accepted the call, he removed with his family, purchased land in the neighborhood of where Abingdon now stands, and settled upon it. His first meeting house at Sinking Spring, was a very large cabin of unhewn logs, from eighty to a hundred feet long, by about forty wide; and it stood about the middle of the present grave yard. It was there for some years after the second meeting house was built, and had a very remarkable appearance. Mr. Cummings was of middle stature, about five feet ten inches high, well set and formed, possessing great personal firmness and dignity of character. His voice was strong and had great compass; his articulation was clear and distinct. Without apparent effort he could speak to be heard by ten thousand people. His mind was good without any brilliancy. He understood his own system well; spoke always with great gravity, and required it from all who sat under the sound of his voice. He could not tolerate any movement among the congregation after preaching commenced. He uniformly spoke like one having authority, and laid down the law and the gospel with great distinctness as he understood them. When he came to Holston, he was about forty years of age.

At this time the Indians were very troublesome, and continued to be so for several years; and generally during the summer months, the families for safety were obliged to collect together in forts. The one to which he always carried his family was on the land of Capt. Joseph Black, and stood on the first knoll on the Knob road, south of Abington, and on the spot where David Campbell’s gate stands. In the month of July, 1776, when his family were in the fort, and he with a servant and wagon and three neighbors were going to his farm, the party were attacked by Indians, a few hundred yards from the meeting-house. Creswell, who was driving the wagon, was killed at the first fire of the Indians, and during the skirmish the two other neighbors were wounded. Mr. Cummings and his servant-man Job, both of whom were well armed, drove the Indians from their ambush, and with the aid of some men from the fort, who hearing the fire, came to their relief, brought in the dead and wounded. A statement has been published in a respectable historical work, that on this occasion Mr. Cummings lost his wig. I speak from the information of an eye-witness when Mr. Cummings came into the fort, in saying that the story has no truth in it.

From the time Mr. Cummings commenced preaching at Sinking Spring, up to about the year 1776, the men never went to church without being armed, and taking their families with them. On Sabbath morning, during this period, it was Mr. Cummings’ custom, for he was always a very neat man in his dress, to dress himself, then put on his shot-pouch, shoulder his rifle, mount his dun stallion, and ride off to church. There he met his gallant and intelligent congregation, each man with his rifle in his hand. When seated in the meeting-house, they presented altogether a most solemn and singular spectacle. Mr. Cummings’ uniform habit, before entering the house, was to take a short walk alone whilst the congregation were seating themselves; he would then return, at the door hold a few words of conversation wdth some one of the elders of the church, then would walk gravely through this crowd, mount the steps of the pulpit, deposit his rifle in a corner near him, lay off his shot-pouch, and commence the solemn worship of the day. He would preach two sermons, having a short interval between them, and go home. The congregation was very large, and preaching was always well attended. On sacramental occasions, which were generally about twice a year, the table was spread in the grove near the church. He preached for many years, and until far advanced in life, to one of the largest, most respectable, and most intelligent congregations ever assembled in Western Virginia. His congregation at Ebbing Spring was equally respectable and intelligent, but not so large. It included the families at the Royal Oak, and for twenty miles in that direction. The meeting-house was built in the same manner as that at Sinking Spring, but not so large.

Mr. Cummings was a zealous whig, and contributed much to kindle the patriotic fire which blazed forth so brilliantly among the people of Holston in the war of the Revolution. He was the first named on the list of the Committee of Safety for Fincastle County, And after the formation of Washington County, 1T76, he was chairman of the Committee of Safety for that County, and took an active part in all its measures. Mr. Cummings died in March, 1812, in about the eightieth year of his age, leaving many and most respectable descendants. He was a sincere and exemplary Christian, and a John Knox in his energy and zeal in support of his own church. He never lost sight of his object, and always marched directly up to it with a full front. He performed a great deal of missionary labor through an extensive district of country, beyond his own large field. The fruits still remain. He was a Presbyterian of the old stamp, rigid in his Calvinistic and Presbyterian faith, strict in the observance of the Sabbath, and faithful in teaching his children and servants the Catechism. In the expedition against the Cherokees, in 1776, Mr. Cummings accompanied the forces from the Holston, and preached at the different stations now included in the State of Tennessee ; and in this way he was the first minister of the gospel in that State.

Mr. Cummings had some trouble on the subject of Psalmody. That fruitful subject of debate, which should be sung in public worship, the version of Rouse or of Watts, interested his people; and caused the first and only disturbance in his large charge. He was in favor of using Watts. At a meeting of the Presbytery of Hanover, in Bedford County, October, 1781, a complaint from some members of both congregations of his charge, Sinking Spring and ~ Ebbing Spring, came under consideration. It was resolved that the malcontents on that subject be dismissed from his pastoral care, when all arrearages were paid up. And as different congregations "were in trouble on this subject; Presbytery—“Recommend to all their members that much care be taken to preserve the peace and harmony of particular churches, in their attempts of this nature (introducing Watts’ version); and especially that they take particular pains to inform the minds of the people as fully as possible upon the subject, and that they gain the approbation of the elders, and of the people of the particular church where such Psalmody is desirable, before it be prosecuted to a decided practice. Still, however, reserving to each member the right of conscience in particular cases as prudence shall direct.” The uneasiness in his charge not being settled by this act of Presbytery, Mr. Cummings asked the next year, at Timber Ridge, May 23d, to be released from tlie pastoral charge of the two congregations. As a peace measure, it was granted. Mr. Adam Rankin, licensed in the fall of 1782, visited the Holston, and became the earnest defender of the exclusive use of Rouse’s version in the worship of the sanctuary. In a few years he became the leader of a schism of the church on the subject of Psalmody. The history of that schism occupies many pages in Davidson’s History of the Presbyterian Church in Kentucky. In a little time the controversy died away on the Holston; and Mr. •Cummings continued to preach the gospel with spirit while his strength lasted. In the congregation on the Holston, both versions were used by compromise. In May, 1784, in reply to the petition from some members of the Sinking Spring and the Knobs congregation-—Presbytery “ give it as their opinion, that there will be no danger in attending upon the word preached by Mr. Cummings, or any other regular member of our Presbytery; and reeommend it to them to lay aside prejudice and party spirit, so that they may hear him, and other supplies that may be sent them to their spiritual advantage.” In many congregations in Virginia, the singing was performed on the Sabbath, and other public occasions, from both versions, by agreement; the Psalms and Hymns for a certain part of the day were from Rouse, and the other part from Watts.

At Falls Meeting House, May 22d, 1783, this minute was made: “The western members of this Presbytery requested our concurrence in soliciting Synod to constitute them into a distinct Presbytery, it being so exceedingly inconvenient for them to attend Presbytery at such a distance. Presbytery concur accordingly, provided they can procure another member. At the same meeting of Presbytery, on May 21st, Mr. David Rice was dismissed from his congregation in Bedford County, and accepted a call from Kentucky. In May, 1785, a request was made to Synod by Messrs. Hezekiah Balch, Charles Cummings and Samuel Doak, that a Presbytery to be called Abingdon, be formed, embracing the territories of the present States of Tennessee and Kentucky. By act of Synod this was formed. In the arrangement of Synods and Presbyteries to constitute a General Assembly, the Presbytery of Abingdon was divided to form two Presbyteries—Messrs. Cummings, Balch, Casson, Doak and Houston to be the Presbytery of Abingdon,, and be a constituent part of Synod of the Carolinas; and Messrs. Rice, Craighead, Rankin, McClure and Crawford to be the Presbytery of Transylvania, and form part of the Synod of Virginia. By this arrangement Mr. Cummings ceased to be connected with a Virginia Presbytery, and continued a member of Synod of Carolinas until the year 1802, when the Presbytery was transferred to the Synod of Virginia, having parted with the greater portion of her original area to form other Presbyteries.

Montcalm, Dec. 1, 1851. Dear Sir—I concluded this morning to copy for you an account of the battle of King’s Mountain, but before commencing took down your volume of Sketches of North Carolina, and read over Gen. Graham’s account of it—and I confess I have read it with a good deal of surprise. There are one or two small errors in the general account, but it is substantially correct. But when the troops are about to go into action, the Washington regiment from Virginia is lost sight of, and although it is admitted in the account that Col. William Campbell was selected to command ifi chief, he is lost si^ht of too, and Col. Shelby is made the conspicuous commanding officer. Even he and Sevier are made to receive the surrender. Now, as to this last point, I can state to you that Col. David Campbell, of Campbell’s Station, Tennessee, a man whose character for truth and integrity stands as high as any man who was in the battle, furnished a statement in his life-time of what he was an eye-witness—and in that statement he declares that he was within a few steps of the British officer, Capt. De Poisture, when he surrendered, and that the surrender was made to Col. Campbell. This would not be a very material matter, in the confusion of a surrender, were it not that there has been an effort on the part of Governor Shelby and his friends to depreciate the conduct of Col. Campbell in that battle, and to enhance his own.

This is a piece of history- with which I have made myself long since well acquainted, but I am not willing to engage in any particular investigation about it. I will, however, send you a copy of the official report of the action, made and signed by William Campbell, Isaac Shelby and Benjamin Cleveland, in which you will see it stated that Campbell’s regiment, as well as Shelby’s, began the attack—and the truth is, these two regiments began it, because, from their positions, they were nearest the enemy.

A statement of the proceedings of the western army, from the 25th day of September, 1780; to the reduction of Major Ferguson and the army under his command. On receiving intelligence that Major Ferguson had advanced up as high as Gilbertown, in Rutherford County, and threatened to cross the mountains to the western waters, Col. Campbell, with 400 men from Washington County of Virginia, Col. Isaac Shelby, with 240 men from Sullivan County, North Carolina, and Lieut. Col. John Sevier, with 240 men from Washington County, North Carolinia, assembled at Watauga, on the 25th of September, where they were joined by Col. Charles McDowell, with 160 men from the counties of Burke and Rutherford, who had fled before the enemy to the western waters. We began our march on the 26th, and on the 30th we were joined by Col. Cleveland on the Catawba river, with 350 men from the counties of Wilkes and Surry. No one officer having properly a right to command in chief, on the first day of October we despatched an express to Major General Gates, informing him of our situation, and requested him to send a general officer to take the command of the whole. In the meantime

Col. Campbell was chosen to act as commandant till such general officer should arrive. We marched to the Cowpens, on Broad river, in South Carolina, where we were joined by Col. James Williams, with 400 men, on the evening of the 6th of October, who informed us that the enemy lay encamped somewhere near the Cherokee ford of Broad river, about 80 miles distant from us. By a council of the principal officers, it-was then thought advisable to pursue the enemy that night with 900 of the best horsemen, and leave the weak horse and foot-men to follow as fast as possible. We began our march with 900 of the best horsemen about 8 o’clock the same evening, and marching all night, came up with the enemy about 3 o’clock, P. M., of the 7th, who lay encamped on the top of King’s Mountain, twelve miles north of the Cherokee ford, in the confidence that they would not be forced from so advantageous a post. Previous to the attack, on the march, the following disposition was made: Col. Shelby’s regiment formed a column in the centre on the left; Col. Campbell’s regiment another on the right; part of Col. Cleveland’s regiment, headed in front by Major Winston, and Col. Sevier’s regiment formed a large column on the right wing; the other part of Col. Cleveland’s regiment, headed by Col. Cleveland himself, and Col. Williams’ regiment, composed the left wing. In this order we advanced, and got within a quarter of a mile of the enemy before we were discovered. Col. Shelby’s and Col. Campbell’s regiments began the attack, and kept up a fire while the right and left wings were advancing to surround them, which was done in about five minutes; the greatest part of which time a heavy and incessant fire was kept up on both sides ; our men in some parts, where the regulars fought, were obliged to give way a small distance, two or three times, but rallied, and returned with additional ardor to the attack. The troops upon the right having gained the summit of the eminence, obliged the enemy to retreat along the top of the ridge, to where, Col. Cleveland commanded, and were there stopped by his brave men. A flag was immediately hoisted by Captain De Poisture, their commanding officer, (Major Ferguson having been killed a little before,) for a surrender. Our fire immediately ceased, and the enemy laid down their arms, the greatest part of them charged, and surrendered themselves to us prisoners at discretion.

It appeared from their own provision returns for that day, found in their camp, that their whole force consisted of 1125 men, out of which they sustained the following loss : Of the regulars, one major, one captain, two sergeants, and fifteen privates killed; thirty-five privates wounded, left on the ground not able to march. Two captains, four lieutenants, three ensigns, one surgeon, five sergeants, three corporals, one drummer and 49 privates taken prisoners. Loss of the Tories : two colonels, three captains and 201 privates killed; one major and 127 privates wounded, and left on the ground, not able to march; one colonel, 12 captains, 11 lieutenants, two ensigns, one quartermaster, one adjutant, two commissaries, 18 sergeants and 600 privates taken prisoners. Total loss of the enemy, 1105 men, at King's Mountain. Given under our hands at Camp.

Signed Wm. Campbell,
Isaac Shelby,
Benj. Cleveland.

The despatch, a copy of which I here send you, can be found in the Virginia Gazette of the 18th of Nov., 1780. The copy I send was taken from an original, sent to Col. Arthur Campbell, as county Lieutenant of Washington County.—See 1st vol. Marshall’s Life of Washington, p. 397.

If I can think of any other facts worth communicating to you, and which relate to the first settlement of this part of Virginia, you shall have them — and I shall be greatly obliged by hearing from you as you progress with your work. Your Sketches of North Carolina have greatly interested me — and all you may say about Parson Graham and Liberty Hall must be interesting. When a boy, I often saw at my father’s, John Campbell’s, such young preachers as Allen, who died in Kentucky — Freeman, Blythe and others — all very interesting men. But they have all gone, I believe. I was married by the second husband of Allen’s widow—and knew her intimately. She was a most interesting woman — and Mr. Ramsey was the pastor of the congregation around Campbell’s station, and the intimate friend of Col. Campbell’s and Judge Roane’s families. He preached the funeral service at the burial of Mrs. Margaret Campbell. I believe he died before Judge Roane.

Most respectfully your obt. servt.,

David Campbell.

I will omit the account of the battle of King’s Mountain which I had intended sending you. The official account is sufficient. There is, however, one fact which I ought to state in justice to the Virginia regiment, and which shows the part they took in the battle. Col. Newell, in a letter in 1823, informs me that of our men in that battle 30 were killed and 60 wounded. He was badly wounded himself—but fought through the action by procuring a horse, although a lieutenant, and commanding and encouraging his men until the surrender. Of those killed, 13 were from the Washington Virginia regiment, and here are their names: — Captains Andrew Edmondson and William Edmondson; Lieutenants Reece JBrown, William Blackburn, Thomas McCulloch and Robert Edmondson— and Ensigns John Beatie, James Corry, James Laird, Nathaniel Dryden, James Phillips and Nathaniel Guist — and private Henry Henigar. The names of the wounded are not known, but Col. Newell says there were twenty, so that Col. Campbell’s regiment lost in killed nearly one half, and in wounded one-third of the whole.

Colonel Patrick Ferguson
OF THE
British Army.

One of the heroes of King’s Mountain, and a victim of the battle upon its summit, was Col. Ferguson, of the British army. Fighting bravely and coolly, though wounded, he fell by a gunshot from the American militia, pressing on with unexcelled courage to ascend the mountains and surround the British and tory foes on the top. It is hardly possible, that, unharmed by powder and ball, he could have escaped a surrender in a few minutes, as flight was impracticable, and victory scarcely in the bounds of possibility, even for the brave, and enterprising, and skilful Colonel. In the immediate relief felt, in the upper counties of the Carolinas, by his fall, and in the important consequences connected with his defeat, the rejoicing was so great and universal, that history has seemed to forget, or at least overlook his real worth, in filling up its pages. He fell fighting as bravely for his king as Wolfe on the plains of Abraham. The events following in both cases were immeasurable; and from first to last equally beyond human skill, or the events of chance or weakness. The fall of Montcalm and Wolfe was the beginning of the loss of America to France; and the death of Ferguson, with Williams and Chronicle, the beginning of the loss of the Southern States to the Royal army, and of the whole United States to Great Britain. King’s Mountain, the field of the militia of the Carolinas and Virginia, followed in succession by the Cowpens, the theatre of the gallant Morgan with his regulars and militia, and Guilford, the chosen battle-field of Greene with Cornwallis, accumulated an amount of loss upon the Royal army, and infused a power of enthusiasm into the breasts of the hitherto discouraged patriots; the tide of war was changed, and the current of events rushed on to the surrender of the British army at Yorktown. He must have been no ordinary man, whose loss on an expedition through the western counties could, as the British writers say, change the whole course of Lord Cornwallis in his proceedings against the Carolinas. The following facts collected by the “Senior Member of the Abingdon Literary Club,” present Col. Ferguson in a more favorable light as a man and an officer, than the traditions of border war, and tory and patriotic encounters have hitherto thrown around him. He was something more noble than the maraudings connccted with his expeditions have portrayed him to the southern people.

Patrick Ferguson was a Scotchman. His father, James Ferguson of Pitfane, was a Judge of eminence. His uncle, Patrick Murray, a nobleman, held a high rank for his literary accomplishments. The nephew was esteemed of—“equally vigorous and brilliant powers.” He sought distinction in the army, and at eighteen was a subaltern in the German wars, distinguished for his cool and deliberate courage. When the troubles with America assumed a warlike aspect, young Ferguson turned his attention to the construction of a rifle that might, by its use in the British army, remove somewhat of the dread the reports of the skill of the American riflemen cast upon the spirits of the soldiery. He produced a rifle that might be loaded six times in a minute, by an ingenious contrivance to thrust in the charges of powder and ball, at the breech of the barrel, without changing the position of the rifle or the marksman. Lord Townsend, Master of Ordinance, expressed his approbation of this improved instrument of war. The regiment to which Ferguson belonged not being called to active service in the colonies, he sought an introduction to the Commander-in-chief, and from him received an appointment to discipline a corps, drafted from different regiments, to the use of his rifle. This corps was first engaged in action at the battle of Brandywine in Sept. 1777 ; and the service, rendered by it to the forces under General Knyphausen, received the commendation of the Commander-in-chief, and by his order was publicly attested, and acknowledged by the whole army—“having scoured the ground so effectually, that not a shot was fired by the Americans to annoy that column in its march.’' Secured by this corps, Knyphausen advanced and obliged the Americans to cross the river — “and opened the way to the rest of the army.”

“Ferguson” — says a British writer—“in a private letter of wThich Dr. Adam Ferguson transmitted me a copy, mentions a very curious incident, from which, it appears that the life of the American General was in imminent danger.” While Ferguson lay with a part of his riflemen 011 a skirt of wood in front of General Knyphausen’s division, the circumstance happened of which the letter in question gives the following account: —

“We had not lain long, when a rebel officer, remarkable by a hussar dress, passed towards our army, within a hundred yards of my right flank, not perceiving us. He was followed by another, dressed in dark green and blue, mounted on a good bay horse, with a remarkable high cocked hat. I ordered three good shots to steal near to them, and fire at them; but the idea disgusted me. I recalled the order. The hussar, in returning, made a circuit, but the other passed within a hundred yards of us; upon which I advanced from the woods towards him. Upon my calling he stopped, but after looking at me, proceeded. I again drew his attention, and made sign to him to stop, levelling my piece at him; but he slowly continued his way. As was within that distance, at which in the quickest firing, I could have lodged half a dozen balls in or about him before he was out of my reach, I had only to determine ; but it was not pleasant to fire at the back of an unoffending individual, who was acquitting himself' very coolly of his duty. So I let him alone. The day after, I had been telling this story to some wounded officers, who lay in the same room with me, when one of our surgeons, who had been dressing the wounded rebel officers, came in and told us that they had been informing him that General Washington was all the morning with the light troops, and only attended by a French officer in a hussar dress, he himself dressed and mounted in every point as above described. I am not sorry that 1 did not know at the time who it was.”

In the year 1779, Colonel Ferguson was employed in several expeditions which called forth a great degree of British valor and ability, but were unimportant in their results. He was engaged in the incursions upon the North, or Hudson’s River. He was in the expedition to Charleston, South Carolina, and is mentioned with great praise by Sir Henry Clinton, the commander-in-chief of the British army. After the reduction of Charleston, in 1780, the writer, quoted by the senior member, goes on to say—“When Lord Cornwallis was attempting by justice and mildness to restore, harmony between the provinces and the mother country, he called for the assistance of Ferguson. To the valor, enterprise, and inventions, which are so important in war, Ferguson was known to add the benignant disposition and conciliatory manner which generate good-will and cement friendship in situations of peace. Among the propositions of Cornwallis for the security of the recovered colony, one scheme was to arm the well affected for their own defence. Ferguson, now a Lieutenant-Colonel in America, was entrusted with the charge of marshalling the militia throughout a wide extent of country. Under his direction and conduct, a militia at once numerous and select, was enrolled and disciplined. One of the great tests of clearness and vigor of understanding is ready classification, either of things or men, according to the qualities which they possess, and the purposes they are fitted or intended to answer. Ferguson exercised his genius in devising a summary of the ordinary tactics and manual exercises for the use of the militia. He had them divided in every district into two classes—one of the young men, single and unmarried, who should be ready to join the king’s troops to repel any enemy that infested the province; another, of the aged and heads of families, who should be ready to unite in defending their own townships, habitations, and farms. In his progress amongst them, he soon gained their confidence by the attentions he paid to the interests of the well affected, and even by his humanity to the families of those who were in arms against him. We come not, said he, to make war upon women and children; and gave them money to relieve their distresses. The movements of the Americans having compelled Lord Cornwallis to proceed with great caution in his Northern expedition, the genius and efforts of Ferguson were required for protecting and facilitating the march of the army, and a plan of collateral operations was devised for the purpose. In the execution of these schemes he had advanced as far as Ninety-Six, about two hundred miles from Charleston; and with his usual vigor and success, was acting against different bodies of the Colonists that still disputed the possession, when intelligence arrived from the British officer, Colonel Brown, commander of his Majesty’s forces in upper Georgia, that a corps of rebels, under Colonel Clarke, had made an attempt upon Augusta, and being repulsed was retreating by the back settlements of Carolina. Colonel Brown added, that he meant to hang on the rear of the enemy, and that if Ferguson would cut across his route, he might be intercepted, and his party dispersed. This service seemed to be perfectly consistent with the purposes of his expedition, and did not give time to wait for fresh orders from Lord Cornwallis. Ferguson yielded to his usual ardor, and pushed with his detachment, composed of a few regulars and militia, into Tyson County.

“In the meantime numerous bodies of back settlers, west of the ! Allegheny Mountains, were in arms, some of them intending to seize upon the presents intended for the Creek and Cherokee Indians, which they understood were slightly guarded at Augusta, Georgia. Others had assembled upon the alarm of enemies likely to visit them from South Carolina. These meeting with Colonel Clarke secured his retreat, and made it expedient for Brown to desist from the pursuit, and return to his station at Augusta; while Ferguson, having no intelligence of Brown’s retreat, still continued the march which was undertaken at his request. As he w^as continuing his route, a numerous, fierce, and unexpected enemy suddenly sprang up in the woods and wilds. The inhabitants of the Allegheny assembled without noise or warning, under the conduct of six or seven of their militia colonels, to the number of 1600 daring, well-mounted and excellent horsemen. Discovering these enemies, as he crossed King’s Mountain, Ferguson took the best position for receiving them the ground would permit. But his men, neither covered by horse nor artillery, and likewise being dismayed and astonished at finding themselves so unexpectedly surrounded and attacked on every side by the cavalry of the mountains, were not capable of withstanding the impetuosity of their charge. Already 150 of his soldiers were killed upon the spot, and a greater number was wounded; still however the unconquerable spirit of this gallant officer refused to surrender. He repulsed a succession of attacks from every quarter, until he received a mortal wound. By the fall of Colonel Ferguson, his men were entirely disheartened. Animated by his brave example, they had hitherto preserved their courage under all disadvantages. The second in command judging all further resistance to be vain, offered to surrender, and sued for quarter. From the ability and exertions of Colonel Ferguson, very great advantages had been expected. By his unfortunate fall, and the slaughter, captivity, or dispersion of his whole corps, the plan of the expedition into North Carolina was entirely deranged, the western frontiers of South Carolina were now exposed to the incursions of the mountaineers, and it become necessary for Lord Cornwallis to fall back for their protection, and wait for a reinforcement before he could proceed further on his expedition. On the 14th of October, he began his march to South Carolina. His Lordship was taken ill, but nevertheless preserved his vigor of mind, and arrived on the 29th of October, 1780, at Winnsborough, to wait for, fresh reinforcements from Sir Henry Clinton.” Such is the British account of this daring and accomplished officer, whose army was entirely destroyed on the summit of King’s Mountain, on the 7th of October, 1780.

Colonel Ferguson was apprised of the gathering of the militia to oppose his progress, and had dispatched a messenger to Cornwallis for reinforcements. But the messenger, fearing the patriots living on his route, travelled only at night, lying by through the day, and compelled to take a circuitous route, reached the camp of his lordship only the night before the attack on Ferguson. The news of the defeat reached the royal camp before any reinforcement could be sent off to aid the Col. His fall was a loss his lordship could not repair. Rawdon and Tarlton were brave and enterprising, and admirable for a daring expedition or a bold stroke. Webster was a gentleman and an honorable soldier of great courage, unequalled in the camp or in action. O’Harra was brave and capable of the post next his lordship. But Ferguson for managing the affairs of the country in the unsettled state of things in the Carolinas, had no equal in the army of Cornwallis. Charleston was taken by the British forces, on the 12th of May, 1780; Buford was defeated on the Waxhaw, on the 29th of the same month; Gates was defeated at Camden, August 16th; Sumpter surprised on the 18th; and South Carolina appeared to be a conquered State. On the 7th of October, Ferguson was defeated on King’s Mountain; January 17th, 1781, Morgan gained over Tarlton the battle at the Cowpens; on March 15th, was the battle at Guilford C. H., followed by the retreat of Cornwallis to Wilmington; and the Carolinas were in the course of-the summer rescued from the power of the British army.


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