Friday, August 2, 2013

Bits & Pieces of History

                                              The Regulators and the Battle at Alamance

Four years before the Battle of Lexington, the Regulators in North Carolina were waging war against the British.  In 1769 Herman Husband began organizing the farmers in the Piedmont area of NC in opposition to excessive fees and taxes and lack of representation.  After peaceful means to resolve the problems failed the discontented men began to harass public officials, some refusing to pay taxes.  In 1770 the “Bloody Law” or “Riot” law was passed giving the governor power to use military force to squash rebellion and in 1771 Governor Tryon began a campaign near Hillsborough.  Several attempts to prevent hostile action stalled and an effort to exchange prisoners failed when one regulator prisoner was killed.  The battle lasted less than three hours with estimates of the dead ranging from nine on each side to seventy militia and 300 regulators.  One regulator, James Few, was immediately hanged using the Riot Act as authorization.  Few, 25 years old was the father of newborn twins and on June 13 Tryon’s troops destroyed his parents’ farm.  A special court convened at Hillsborough in June and sentenced twelve prisoners to death.  Hanging for six was delayed, waiting for “the king’s pleasure”.  Two names are not recorded but four of those hanged are known: James Pugh, Robert Messer, Benjamin Merrill and Robert Matear.  Merrill, a captain, was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered in front of his wife and eight children.  He asked that his wife and children be allowed to keep his estate.   After the battle Tryon demanded the regulators take an oath of allegiance, ordered crops and homes burned, and flour and cattle confiscated.  Many of the settlers moved on into western North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.  Today a memorial plaque at Alamance Battleground State Historic Site shows the hanging of James Pugh.  Husband, who had converted from Anglican to Quaker, did not participate in the battle and soon after returned to Maryland. From Maryland he moved into Pennsylvania where he was a force in the Whiskey Rebellion.  On April 19 1775 shots were exchanged in Massachusetts at the Battle of Lexington and the fight for Independence was official.
From: Farming Dissenters, The Regulator Movement in North Carolina by Carole Watterson Troxler;
 A Chronicle of North Carolina during the American Revoluton 1763-1789 by Jeffrey J. Crow

Posted by Diane Price
Lineage Research Chair
DAR Brunswick Town Chapter

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