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Letter from William Tryon to Wills Hill, Marquis of Downshire
Tryon, William, 1729-1788
August 01, 1771
Volume 08, Pages 648-651

[From Tryon's Letter Book.]
Letter from Governor Tryon to Earl Hillsborough.


New York 1st August 1771.

On the 18th of May last I had the honor to transmit to your Lordship an account of the victory obtained, on the auspicious 16th of the same month, over the rebels of North Carolina, I shall here, with as much brevity as possible, relate the principal events that attended the success of that day: On the 17th, the day after the battle, I took the opinion of the gentlemen of the Council present, Vizt, The Honble John Rutherford, Lewis DeRossett, Robert Palmer and Samuel Cornell, Esqre, whether it would not be advisable (in order to leave a door open for mercy) to issue a proclamation of pardon to all of

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the rebels, who should come into camp, surrender up their arms, take the oath of allegiance and oath of obligation to pay all taxes as well due as those that shall become so, and to support and defend the laws of the land.

This measure was unanimously advised and a proclamation issued accordingly. The happy effects of this proclamation (extended from time to time for a few days) soon disarmed all opposition. The inhabitants come in by crowds to surrender themselves and by the 19th of June three thousand three hundred had come into camp and took the oaths of allegiance &c. &c., to his Majesty, and upwards of five hundred arms were surrendered up; many of those that surrendered asserted they were not in the battle, while others pretended to be in the battle without arms.

As soon as I found the force of the rebellion was broke I detached parties in the neighbourhood of the army and made requisitions of the settlers to bring in a certain quantity of flour and beeves according to the strength of the settlement or the necessities of the army, which requisitions were generally strictly complyed with in so much, that the Commissary had not occasion to purchase any provisions for the troops from the 16th of May, till they quitted those settlements the 20th of June. On the 19th of May the army proceeded westward in order to join General Waddell with his troops then intrenched near Salisbury, and on the 4th of June we effected the junction about eight miles to the eastward of the Yadkin River, and marched the same day to the Moravian settlements; where on the sixth we commemorated his Majestys birthday and celebrated the victory at Alamance. Intelligence being brought that the counties of Tryon, Mecklenburg, and north west part of Rowan, westward of the Yadkin, were meditating hostilities, it was judged proper, by a Council of War, that a strong detachment from the army should march through those parts, and compel the inhabitants to take the oath above mentioned, and to suppress any insurrection among them. Agreeable thereto, I appointed Gen1 Waddell for that command with the troops he brought with him amounting to three hundred and forty men from the counties of Mecklenburgh, Rowan, Tryon and Anson, reinforced with the four companies of Orange the company of Light Infantry from Cumberland county, and the Artillery company of sailors raised at Wilmington, with one of the brass field pieces, and six half swivel guns: The General marched the eighth of June to the westward, with orders from me after he had performed the service

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aforesaid, to disband his troops: Since his first day's march I have not had any intelligence of his measures or success; which will be communicated to your Lordship by Governor Martin: On the ninth of June I returned with the army through the western part of Orange county to Hillsborough, where the Judges were waiting, at an especial Court of Oyer and Terminer to try the prisoners taken in battle, twelve of whom were capitally convicted as traitors, and two acquited, Of which twelve six were executed the 19th of June near the Town of Hillsborough, and by the solicitation of the officers of the army, I suspended the execution of the other six till His Majestyts pleasure should be known, as soon as I can transmit their names I shall solicit on their behalf, having in the hurry of obedience to comply with his Majesty's commands to repair to this Government, left many papers at Newbern for Governor Martin relative to this service, which I now find I stand in need of. The executions being over, on the 20th the army marched to the southward and as I had received the 13th of June (by one of the Judges) your Lordships dispatch, requiring me to take upon me without loss of time the government of New York, I left the army early the 20th arrived the 24th at Newbern, and on the 30th embarked with my family for this country. Benjamin Merril a Captn of militia, at the hour of execution left it in charge to the officers to solicit me to petition his Majesty to grant his plantation and estate to his wife and eight children. He died under a thorough conviction of his crime and the justice of his sentence and addressed himself to the spectators to take warning by his suffering: His Majesty's indulgence to this request, would, I am persuaded, be dutifully and affectionately received by his unhappy widow and children.

This service my Lord, with all the impediments and difficulties under which it was undertaken and prosecuted has been attended with every desired success. The inhabitants chearfully pay their taxes, are satisfied that Husband, Hunter and a few others have by misrepresentations misled them, and are convinced that they are much happier by losing the victory, than they would have been had they defeated his Majesty's forces. The eastern counties raised no men, owing to the northern treasurer refusing to answer my warrants on him payable to the Colonels of those counties to enable them to pay each volunteer forty shillings bounty money and to furnish them with necessaries for the expedition, or even to issue his notes, as the southern Treasurer had done to the sum of six thousand

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pounds (without which credit no men could have been raised) to be received by him in the payment of the contingent tax. I shall leave to your Lordships reflections the tendency this expedition has had on the frontiers of every colony in British America, as well as on that in North Carolina. When his Majesty is informed that this service was undertaken without money in the Treasury to support it, no armory to furnish arms, nor magazines from whence we could be supplied with ammunition or draw provisions, and that his new raised troops acted with fidelity, honor and obedience to their King and country, I am sanguine enough to believe they will receive some favorable testimonies from their Sovereign. They have had no other immediate encouragement than the forty shillings bounty money, which was necessary to leave with their families to hire husbandmen to plant their corn in their absence. The pay of the troops, the provisions, waggons, and every other contingent service, remains a demand on the public—a sum I estimate at not less than forty thousand pounds currency: a load the province is absolutely incapable to discharge, unless by a new emission of currency, or an aid from Parliament, both of which I humbly beg leave to submit to his Majesty's wisdom. As the orders delivered to the troops will be explanatory of this service, I have the honor herewith to transmit them, also the petition of the insurgents to me, delivered the evening before the action, with my answer thereto. The particular returns of the strength of the army was left for Governor Martin. But if your Lordship will turn to the orders of 20th of May, you will see £126 distributed among the non-commissioned officers and soldiers of the army—a sum calculated (by the returns) at 2s. 6d. per man, which in the whole amounted to one thousand and nine men, exclusive of officers, thirty light horse and nine men that were killed.

Humbly hoping that this service may be acceptable to my most gracious Sovereign,

I am &c, &c, &c,

P.S. I should have mentioned that one Few an outlaw taken in battle was hanged the next day in camp, and that the houses and plantations of the outlaws we came near were laid waste and destroyed, and that the owners fled out of the province.