Letter from [Joseph Hughes?] to Abner Nash
Volume 14, Pages 870-873
JOS. HUGHES (?) TO GOV. ABNER NASH.
About the 5th day of last month, in consequence of your Excellency's letter to General Rutherford, my Self and others, Inhabitants of the Town of Salisbury and that Neighbourhood, were taken into custody in order to be sent to Halifax, in Order, as we
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understand, to Answer a Charge on a Supposition of our holding a Criminal Correspondence with the Enemy. General Rutherford, who at that time had seen those letters on which the supposition was grounded, they being then in the hands of Governor Rutledge in Salisbury, they were Directed by John Mitchell,—then residing in South Carolina, but formerly a merchant in Salisbury—to Maxwell Chambers, James Ker, Jacob Brown, Willis Ellis, B. Boote, and myself; and nothing appearing in those letters to induce a belief that there was a previous Connection with regard to State affairs had passed between Mitchell and us, he said that in obedience to your orders we must all appear at Halifax, we well knowing our own innocence with regard to so unjust a Charge and ever willing to give your Excellency such Satisfaction as may be in our power touching any previous knowledge we might have with regard to those letters, or any other matter which might have been suggested by Governor Rutledge in his letters to you, we readily acquiesced to come to Halifax, however unjust Such a Charge may be, or however prejudicial it may prove to ourselves and families, Exclusive of the great Expences and fatigue of such a journey. Accordingly we engaged each for himself to pursue our journey on Friday following, whereupon Mr. Rutherford Dispenced with the formality of a guard and accordingly Mr. Ellis, Brown and myself set out, and arrived at Halifax with the Rowan Sheriff, altho' he declared to us he had neither Charge nor custody of us, neither would he have Come down had he not understood that the Enemy were on their way to Salisbury, and that he wanted to be out of the way. On the 17th day we waited on Col. Long when the Sheriff produced your letter; at the Same time I shewed him a Copy of those letters which Mitchell had wrote to each of us. I had procured it to be attested by Governor Rutledge himself, which Copy Mr. Long Retained in his hand, as he intended you should have the perusal thereof.
At the time I had the Copy of those Letters from the Gov. of South Carolina at Salisbury where I waited on him when he Informed me of the particulars relative to the Dutchman on whom those Letters were found, a person whom I had not seen for the space of two years before, when at the Bar at Salisbury, and
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at his trial of his life for stealing a negro slave of Mr. Dent's in Guilford.
Whilst I was in the Company of the Governor at Mr. Chambers', when he shewed me those letters, he was pleased to observe that nothing could be gathered or construed by them that their had been any previous Correspondence carried on between us and Mitchell, but merely a voluntary act of his own, which by no means could effect us, as it was not in our power to prevent him writing to us upon any subject whatever, however disagreeable to us, but at the same time observed those letters would be good Testimony against Mitchell in South Carolina, and for that purpose he reserved them. But I then understood he had wrote to your Excellency in Consequence of his finding those letters on a Dutchman, and doubt not, as he intended to come to Salisbury, he must have been much intimidated least he should be betrayed into the hands of the bitterest Enemys of this State. However, I believe he found his suspicions to be groundless when he had learned the character of the Dutchman from the Inhabitants of Salisbury, and that it was the General opinion Mitchell's motive in writing proceeded only from his being formerly a neighbor and an old acquaintance, and prematurely of his own accord had wrote those letters, as this Dutchman had called at his house a few days after the Surrender of Charles Town. I beg leave to observe that after Col. Long had perused your Excellency's letter to Gen. Rutherford, and the attested Copy of those Letters of Mitchell, and the accounts he had from the Sheriff of Rowan with regard to the Charge against us, and after Conversing with Mr. Bignall, one of the Council, he was pleased to Discharge Mr. Ellis and Mr. Brown in order to go Home to their plantations and families. As for myself, Mr. Long proposed my staying, and suffered me to continue as a prisoner at large at this place, as your arrival was expected almost every day. To this proposal I cheerfully submitted.
This being the 25th day since my coming to this place, and in daily hopes of your arrival at Halifax, a circumstance which I doubted not would soonest contribute to my Discharge, that I may return home, when my family may be eased of their Anxiety and myself eased from heavy Expences I have & am likely to be at since my leaving home, exclusive of the loss of my attendance
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at our Circuit Court and plantation affairs, all which, when Considered by your Excellency, as well as the circumstance and nature of a vague and uncertain Charge, I hope will be a sufficient Inducement with you to order my being Discharged. Yet, if you should think it absolutely necessary, I am very willing to be interrogated by any Magistrate in this place upon Oath with regard to those matters, and will also be ready at any time to answer any Charge of this nature, being conscious within myself that it's not in the power of Man to Charge me with the least violation of my fidelity or the Oath I have taken on these States; neither have I been privy to the misconduct of others on that account, but on the contrary have all along encouraged my three sons to serve the public, two of whom have been constantly since Jan., 1776, in the service of South Carolina and this State, untill the surrender of Charles Town, and the others have been on every expedition or alarm, when notified or called upon, and I myself have at divers times advanced several sums of Money to volunteers, Cloathing of Soldiers, &c.
As to Mr. Boote and Mr. Kerr, they promised to follow me in one hour after I left Salisbury; yet I have neither seen or heard of them since, but conjecture that they altered their minds, and perhaps have waited on you at Newbern. My present situation being such, I hope to Expect your forgiveness for Trespassing on your patience by the length of this letter, and only beg leave to add that Col. Long informed me he had inclosed a copy of Mitch ell's Letter to your Excellency a few days ago, and said he wrote you on behalf of him who is,
With greatest esteem and Due Defference,
Your Excellency's most obedt. and humble Servt.,