Enoch Gilmer



To Dr. J. F. E. Hardy, [Excerpt]

….Chronicle proposed to send Enoch Gilmer as one; it was objected to because he was not acquainted with the country. Chronicle said that he could
find out anything better than those acquainted, for he could act any character that he pleased; that he could cry and laugh in the same breath, and those best acquainted would believe that he was in earnest in both; that he could act the fool so that those best acquainted with him Would believe him to be deranged; that he was a shrewd, cunning fellow, and a stranger to fear. Hence he was [sent] among others. He went to a Tory’s house on Ferguson’s trail and stated to him that he had been waiting on Ferguson’s way from Twitty’s Ford to Ninety-Six, but missed finding him; that he wished to join the army. The Tory replied, that after Ferguson had crossed the river at Twitty’s Ford, he had received an express from Lord Cornwallis for him to join the main army at Charlotte; that he had called in Tarleton, and would call in his out-posts, and give Gates another defeat, and reduce North Carolina to British rule as he had South Carolina and Georgia, and would enter Virginia with a larger army than ever had been in America. Gilmer gave this account to the officers. This was some time in the day.

They then commenced marching to the Cherokee Ford on Broad River. Night came on, and our pilots missed their way, the night being dark and occasionally raining, so that when we came near to the river it was near daylight; and when we came to the river hills it was agreed that we would send Enoch Gilmer to see whether Ferguson had not been apprised of us and would attack us in the river. Orders were given to keep our guns dry, for it was raining. Gilmer was gone for some time, when his voice was heard in the hollow singing Barney-Linn, a favorite black-guard song. This was notice that all was right.

Orders were given that the largest horses should be on the upper side. The order was not obeyed. The river was deep, but it was remarked that not one was ducked. After passing the river, it was agreed that Enoch Gilmer should go ahead, and make all the discoveries about Ferguson that he could. He went off in a gallop. The officers kept in front of the privates at a very slow gait— the men cursing and stating if we were to have a battle, to let it be over, &c.

All were very hungry, and when we would come to a cornfield, it was soon pulled. The soldiers would cut part of the raw corn off the cobb, and haul the remainder to their horses. After travelling some miles, the officers
saw Gilmer’s horse at a gate about three-quarters of a mile ahead. They gave whip to their horses, and went at full speed to the gate — alighted, and went into the house. Gilmer was sitting at a table eating. Campbell exclaimed, “We have got you — you d-d rascal.”

Gilmer replied, ” a true King’s man by G d.” Campbell in order to try Gilmer’s metamorphosis, had provided himself with a rope, with a running noose on it, threw it over Gilmer’s neck. Gilmer commenced crying and begging. Campbell swore that they would hang him on the bow of the gate— when Chronicle stated that it was wrong to hang him there, for his ghost would haunt the women, who were now in tears. Campbell observed that was right, that we will hang him on the first stooping limb of a tree that they should pass on the road — then sending Gilmer along one or two hundred yards, Gilmer crying and begging for his life, the rope was taken from his neck, and he mounted his horse, and was asked what news he had obtained. He stated as follows: —

That when he came to the Tory’s house, he professed to be a true King’s man, that he was wishing to join Col. Ferguson, and desired to know where he was, and that he had kissed the two Tory women; that the youngest of the two informed him, that she had been in Ferguson’s camp that morning; that the camp was about three miles distant from that place; that she had carried him some chickens; that he was camped on a ridge between two branches where some deer hunters had a camp the last Fall. Major Chronicle and Capt. Mattocks stated that the camp referred to was their camp, and that they well knew the ground Ferguson was camped on. …

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