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Deposition of James Cotton concerning treatment of loyalists in Anson County
Cotton, James, 1739-1785
August 13, 1775
Volume 10, Pages 127-129


On Board His Majesty's Sloop Cruizer,
In Cape Fear River,
This 13th August, 1775.

No Carolina—Ss.

James Cotton of Anson County, being sworn of the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, deposeth and saith, That on the second Tuesday of July last past, a Company of People stiling themselves a Committee for the County of Anson to the number of about thirty met at the Court House of said County, and did then choose Richd Farr and some other person to deliver the following Message, viz:

That the Committee presented their Compliments to me and desired to see me; on which I waited on them. Samuel Spencer their chairman arose and said Mr Colson this Committee has sent for you as one of the Burgesses of the County to acquaint you with our proceedings and to endeavour to get your approbation, the Resolves of the Continental Congress being by him read. Mr Thos. Wade stood up with an audible voice read the Resolves of their Committee, then they demanded of me whether I could sign them and how I approved of them. I would by no means be persuaded by them, but told them, in the Court House that they would be all deemed Rebels and their Principals would be hanged; they answered me that if I did not join with them they should be under the absolute necessity of proceeding against me according to the Directions

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prescribed to them by the General Congress, but that they would give me two weeks to consider upon the matter; for which favour I returned them no thanks. I tarried some time with them in the Court House to observe their proceedings, which was as follows, viz, Thos Wade spoke and said, Col. Spencer you have been an old Field officer, you shall be our Captain General; Spencer replied, anything Gentlemen that I can oblige you in I am ready. William Thomas another Member of Committee said, Martin has turned Mr Wade and Col. Medlock out of Commission let us appoint them our Captains, which was accepted of by them. Then I retired from their Company, a few minutes after one of the Committee came to me and told me he heard Richd Farr just now say if he could get me before the Court House near So. Carolina he would be my butcher, the Committee sending many Newspapers and other writings to me by way of Instruction during the sitting of the Court in order to convince me of my error till Friday night, when I left them and exhorted some of them then present to desist from their wicked practices or they would repent when it was too late.

On the 2d Tuesday following very early in the morning a certain Davd Love came into my bed-room (being admitted by one of my Servants) with a rifle gun, and all other necessary Accoutrements and told me the Committee had sent for me, and that he was Captain of a Company which he had out of doors and was determined to carry me nolens volens, to them at Masks ferry on Pedee that morning. I arose out of my bed from my wife, and looking out of doors I saw William Love, John Luellen, Willm Thomas, Saml Curtis, Wm Covington, and some other persons whom I know not. All appeared as well accoutered as the former, they immediately all rushed into the house and told me to prepare to go with them, I told them as they were all so well armed, I would carry my Weapons for War also, which they all forbid. I finding it was out of my power to withstand prepared to go with them in the meantime one of my Negroes in a fright was about to run away to alarm the neighhood of their Proceedings when one of the said Company espied him Cocked his Gun at him and swore he would kill him if he did not return. I hearing of the uproar ran out of the house and rebuked the villain sharply for daring to present a loaded Gun at any person about my house, telling him I had a great mind to send him to Gaol, the new Captain told me I must consider myself as a Prisonor and not as a Magistrate, at which I persisted no further.

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Capt Love immediately turned himself about to his Company and said now you see Gentlemen that Governor Martin and his damned officers will set the Negroes on to kill us etc. Then we all immediately rode away. I appeared to them Chearful, we stopped about 5 miles from my house there I gave them some rum then we rode about ten miles further to the house of Jno. Smith (adjutant) where I employed them drinking cyder, in the meantime I was informed by Smith that four Thousand Men were come from So. Carolina to Masks ferry to join the Anson Committee and to compel the officers of the County to join with them or to take them Prisoners and carry them to Chas Town, and that John Colson was already taken. I spoke to a man who lodged at Smith's one Richd Downs to walk aside and speak a word with me which he did; I then ran away from my Keepers, and know not that I have seen them since. I travelled as secretly as possible home that night but darst not tarry armed myself and slept in the woods adjacent. The next day Mr Smith sent up my horse & saddle by his son who told me Captn Love had offer'd a large reward for anybody that would take me and tye me and carry me before the Committee, and that each of the Men offered five pounds also. Major Saml Snead's son Israel came and told me he was at Masks ferry and that the So. Carolina rebels were only 219 and that there was about 120 of our County on the day aforesaid. I then sent orders to some of the Militia Capts to call their Companys together to suppress the present invasion, but through fear and treachery they disappointed me, about 40 men attended several days and nights to defend me during which time as I suppose the Rebels laid my corn fields flat to the ground in many places, and there was an appearance of many men and horses by their tracks; on the Saturday evening following at one of my neighbours Plantations I saw in the twilight of the evening a Man seperate himself from about seven others without a hat a handkerchief tyed about his head, and made towards the place I stood with a Gun in his hand, imagining his design I fired at him whether I hit him I know not, immediately I heard them ride away etc. I have camped in the Woods ever since until I arrived on board this Vessel on Sunday last, and further sayeth not.

(Signed) JAMES COTTON.

N. B. I have often heard that the Rebels said they would burn up my houses and Mill, drive away my Negroes and Stock and that I should not tarry with them nor my family.