Samuel Martin

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Excerpt from Sketches of Western North Carolina, Cyrus L. Hunter, 1877

Captain Samuel Martin was a native of Ireland, and born in the year 1732. When a young man, he emigrated to America, and first settled in Pennsylvania. After remaining a short time in that State, he joined the great tide of emigration to the southern colonies. He first entered the service as a private in Captain Robert Alexander’s company, in June 1776, Colonel Graham’s Regiment, and marched to Fort McGaughey, in Rutherford county, and thence across the Blue Ridge Mountains against the Cherokee Indians, who were committing murders and depredations upon the frontier Settlements. In January 1777, he attached himself to the command of Captain William Chronicle, and marched to the relief of the post of Ninety-Six, in Abbeville county, S. C., and after this service he returned to North Carolina.

About the lst of November, 1779, his company was ordered to Charlotte, at that time and place of rendezvous of soldiers for the surrounding counties, and while there he received a special commission of captain, conferred on him by General Rutherford. With his special command be marched with other forces from Charlotte by way of Camden, to the relief of Charleston, and fell in with Col. Hampton, at the Governor’s crate, near that city. Finding that place completely invested by the British army, he remained but a short time, and returned to North Carolina with Colonel Graham’s regiment, about the 1st of June, 1780.

Being, informed on the night of his arrival at home that the Tories were embodied in strong force at Ramsour’s Mill, near the present town of Lincolnton, he immediately raised a small company and joined General Davidson’s battalion, General Rutherford commanding, encamped at Colonel Dickson’s plantation, three miles northwest of Tuckaseege ford. General Rutherford broke up his encampment at that place, early on the morning of the 20th of June, 1780, then sixteen miles from Ramsour’s Mill, and marched with his forces, expecting to unite with Colonel Locke in making a joint attack upon the Tories, but failed to reach the scene of conflict until two hours after the battle. The Tories bad been signally defeated and routed by Colonel Locke and his brave associates, and about fifty made prisoners, among the number a brother of Colonel Moore, the commander of the Tory forces.

Immediately after this battle he received orders from Colonels Johnston and Dickson to proceed with his company to Colonel Moore’s residence, six or seven miles west of the present town of Lincolnton, and arrest that Tory leader, but he bad fled with about thirty of his follower’s to Camden, S.C., where Cornwall’s was then encamped. Soon after this service Captain Martin was ordered to proceed with his company to Rugeley’s Mill, in Kershaw county, S.C. Here Colonel Rugeley, the Tory commander, had assembled a considerable force, and fortified his log barn and dwelling house. Colonel Washington, by order of General Morgan, had pursued him with his cavalry, but having no artillery, he resorted to, an ingenious stratagem to capture the post without sacrificing his own men. Accordingly he mounted a pine log fashioned as a cannon, elevated on its own limbs, and placed it in position to command the houses in which the Tories were lodged. Colonel Washington then made a formal demand for immediate surrender. Colonel Rugeley fearing the destructive consequences of the formidable cannon bearing upon his command in the log barn and dwelling house, after a stipulation as to terms, promptly surrendered his whole force, consisting of one hundred and twelve men, without a gun being fired on either side. It was upon the reception of the news of this surrender that Cornwallis wrote to Tarleton, "Rugeley will not be made a Brigadier."

After this successful stratagem, seldom equaled during the war, Captain Martin was ordered to march with his company in pursuit of Colonel Cunningham, (commonly called "Bloody Bill Cunningham") a Tory leader, encamped on Fishing creek, but he fled so rapidly be could not overtake him. During the latter part of August and the whole of September, Captain Martin was rarely at home, and then not remaining for more than two days at a time. About the last week of September be marched with his company by a circuitous route, under Colonel Graham, to the Cowpens. There, he united with Colonels. Campbell, Shelby, Sevier, Cleaveland and other officers and marched with them to King’s Mountain. In this battle Captain Martin acted a conspicuous part, was in the thickest of the fight, and lost six of his company. After this battle he continued on active scouting duties wherever his services were needed.

When Cornwallis marched through Lincoln county in pursuit of General Morgan, encumbered with upwards of five hundred prisoners, captured at the Cowpens, he was ordered to harass his advance as much as possible. A short time after Cornwallis crossed the Catawba at Cowan’s Ford, he marched as far as Salisbury, when he was ordered by Colonel Dickson to convey some prisoners to Charlotte. Having performed this Service, be proceeded to Guilford Court house, but did not reach that place until after the battle. He then returned home, and was soon after discharged.

In October 1833, Captain Martin, when one hundred and one years old, was granted a pension by the general government. He was a worthy and consistent member of the Associate Reformed Church, and died on the 26th of November, 1836, aged one hundred and four years! He married in Ireland, Margaret McCurdy, who also attained an extreme old age, and both are buried in Goshen grave yard, in Gaston county.

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