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WILLOUGHBY BLACKARD S29638

PENSION APPLICATION OF WILLOUGHBY BLACKARD, WITH AN ANALYSIS
by C. Leon Harris, cleonharris, a fourth great-grandson

State of Virginia
Wythe County to wit:

On this eighth day of October 1832 personally appeared before the justices of the County court of Wythe in open court Willyoube Blackard a resident of Wythe county, and State of Virginia, aged 74 years on the 12 of August last past, who being first duly sworn, according to law, doth, on his oath, make the following declaration, in order to obtain the benefit of the provision made by the act of Congress passed June 7th 1832. That he enlisted in the Army of the United States on the 12 Oct 1776, with Capt John Hogan and served in the 4th Regiment of the North Carolina line under the following named officers Col Henry Dixon, Major Thomas Donoho, Capt Jacob Turner, who was promoted to Maj. and killed at Germantown, then Capt. William Sanders at the time of his enlistment he lived in Bute county North Carolina, marched first to a place in Virginia called the long bridge, & was in the battle when Fordyce was defeated, from there he returned to North Carolina to Bute county thence to Halifax county, & then South Carolina to Edisto River above Charlston & then Stono River & was in the battle of Stono Genl Lincoln was commander in chief [erasure; "who" inserted] was there wounded from the battle of Stono went into Charleston & was there taken prisoner on May 26, 1780 & remained a prisoner until the 27 July same year was then exchanged & then was put in the 6th Reg. North Carolina line, Col Henry Dixon, Liut Col Robert Mayben, Maj. Donoho, Capt Edward Yarborough served under Capt Yarborough to the end of the war was in Gates defeat aug 16, 1780 then in Guildford battle March 15 1781 then the battle of Camden April 23d 1781 then the Eutau Spring battle Sept. 8th 1781 Green commanded. Was discharged Nov. 15, 1781 Has lost his discharge.

He hereby relinquishes every claim whatever to a pension an annuity, except the present, and he declares that his name is not on the pension roll of any agency in any state.

Sworn to & subscribed the day & year aforesaid.
                    his
Will you be         Blackard
                  mark

And the said court do hereby declare their opinion that the aforenamed applicant was a revolutionary soldier and served as he states. I John P Mathews, Clerk of the County Court of Wythe County do hereby certify that the foregoing contains the original proceedings of the said Court in the matter of the application of Will you be Blackard for a pension.

In Testimony whereof I have hereunto set my
hand and seal of office this 21st day of October
1832         J. P. Mathews Clk
                by A. B. Moore his Dep.

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The following table gives a chronology of the people and events mentioned in the pension testimony. Sources of information used in compiling this table and the analysis are listed in endnotes.

Table 1. Chronology of people and events in Willoughby Blackard's pension application:
31 Aug 1775 1st and 2nd NC Regiments organized. Capt. Henry Dixon in 1st.
9 Dec 2nd NC Reg., militia, and volunteers at Battle of Great Bridge. 1
1 Jan 1776 Men from Hillsborough, Edenton, Halifax military districts recruited into 3rd NC Reg. at Wilmington. (Halifax District included Bute County, which was created in 1764 and absorbed into Warren and Franklin Counties in 1779.)
26 Mar 4th NC Reg. organized at Wilmington from Salisbury, Edenton, Wilmington.
April 6th NC Reg. organized at Wilmington. Jacob Turner made Captain in 3rd NC Reg.
10 Oct Thomas Donoho made Captain in 6th NC Reg.
Spring 1777 All six NC Regiments left Wilmington to join Main Army at Middlebrook NJ.
4 Oct Capt. Jacob Turner killed at Battle of Germantown PA. Henry Dixon promoted to Major, assigned to 3rd NC Reg.
19 Dec All NC regiments camped at Valley Forge PA.
29 May 1778 Depleted 6th NC Reg. absorbed into the 1st; 4th into 2nd; 5th into 3rd.
18 June Continental Army left Valley Forge.
Aug NC legislature decided new recruits are to serve 3 years or till end of war.
mid Oct Continental Congress, expecting British fleet to attack Charleston, ordered NC to raise 5000 troops and send them to SC. Gov. Richard Caswell mobilized Continentals and militia.
Nov After conferring at Kinston with Gen. Jethro Sumner and Gen. Benjamin Lincoln, commander of Southern Dept. of Continental army, Caswell drafted many NC militiamen into Continental service for nine months.
Fall Gen. John Ashe took Sumner's 200 nine-month Continentals and 1000 militia to Elizabeth and Charleston. 4th and 6th NC regiments reorganized at Halifax.
29 Dec British captured Savannah.
3 Jan 1779 Ashe's nine-month Continentals and militia joined Lincoln at Purysburgh SC, near Savannah. British captured Augusta GA.
11 Jan 4th and 6th NC regiments assigned to Sumner's Brigade.
30 Jan Maj. Dixon with 438 nine-month Continentals and 1100 militia joined Lincoln.
11 Feb 6th NC Reg. reduced to cadre at Purysburgh.
3 March Ashe's militia and nine-month Continentals defeated at Briar Creek GA.
April Sumner with 759 nine-month Continentals plus militia joined Lincoln at Black Swamp SC. Nine-month Continentals redeployed as new 4th and 5th NC regiments. 3rd NC Reg. at Philadelphia assigned to Southern Dept.
23 April Lincoln with most of his troops marched to near Augusta GA. Prevost left Savannah to besiege Charleston.
10 May Lincoln pursued Prevost. Edward Yarborough promoted to Captain.
3 June Sumner's Brigade redesignated [Col. James] Armstrong's Brigade.
20 June Armstrong's Brigade with 4th and 5th NC regiments at Battle of Stono Ferry SC; Col. Armstrong and Maj. Dixon wounded there.
Oct Lincoln's army, including NC Continentals, join the French in siege of Savannah.
Nov 3rd NC Reg. reorganized at Halifax; Lt. Col. Robert Mebane given command.
Jan 1780 3rd NC Reg. at Charleston.
1 Apr British siege of Charleston began.
8 May Dixon made Lt. Col. Takes command of NC militia.
12 May Surrender of Charleston. Mebane captured. NC Continental regiments dissolved.
13 June Gen. Horatio Gates replaced Lincoln as commander of Southern Department.
16 Aug Capt. Yarborough in Col. Dixon's regiment at Battle of Camden: Gates defeated.
2 Dec Gen. Nathanael Greene replaced Gates as head of southern army.
Jan 1781 Capt. Yarborough at Salisbury NC.
26 Apr Battle of Hobkirk Hill SC (Second Battle of Camden).
8 Sep Battle of Eutaw Springs.
13 Oct Mebane murdered; replaced by Maj. Thomas Donoho.

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The transcript of Willoughby Blackard's pension testimony and the above chronology do not entirely agree. The most glaring contradiction is the statement that Willoughby Blackard "enlisted in the Army of the United States on the 12 Oct 1776 [and] marched first to a place in Virginia called the long bridge, & was in the battle when Fordyce was defeated...." The Battle of Great Bridge actually occurred eight months before WB says he enlisted. Perhaps he was one of the 150 North Carolina "gentlemen" who volunteered there. It is also doubtful that WB enlisted as early as the transcript says, since he does not appear on any NC Continental Line roster or other known record from April 1776 to Oct. 1777. (He is also absent from later records, but after 1779 rosters were often not recorded because of a shortage of paper, and many records were abandoned in battle.) Another reason for doubting the date of enlistment in the transcript is that all the NC regiments left for New Jersey in the spring of 1777, engaged in several famous battles, then bivouacked at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777-78, yet the transcript does not mention these significant events. Perhaps WB actually enlisted in the Continental Army on Oct. 12, 1778, and he either misspoke while giving testimony, or the clerk wrote "1776" by mistake. It may be significant that WB testified that he went from Bute County to Halifax County rather than to Wilmington, where regiments were organized in 1776. When the NC Continental army had to be reorganized after Valley Forge, recruiting was at Halifax because there were so many loyalists at Wilmington. If WB did not enlist until 1778, however, it is unclear how he knew of Capt. Jacob Turner of the 3rd NC Reg., who was killed at Germantown PA on Oct. 4, 1777.

There are also questions about which regiments WB served in. The transcribed testimony states that he enlisted "with Capt John Hogan and served in the 4th Regiment of the North Carolina line under the following named officers Col Henry Dixon, Major Thomas Donoho, Capt Jacob Turner, who was promoted to Maj. and killed at Germantown, then Capt. William Sanders.... As shown in the chronology below, no officer mentioned in the transcript is recorded as having served in the 4th NC regiment. (No record of John Hogan could be found.) The situation was confused, however, because the 4th NC Reg. was reorganized several times, and officers were often shuffled about. The original 4th NC Reg. was absorbed into the 2nd in May of 1778 at Valley Forge, it was reorganized in the fall of 1778, and early in 1779 it became part of Sumner's Brigade (redesignated Armstrong's Brigade in May). In the meantime, as if to confuse things, militia drafted for nine months into the Continental army formed a new, temporary 4th NC Reg. All the NC Continentals appear to have been in the 4th and 5th NC regiments at the Battle of Stono Ferry. Then in Nov 1779 the NC Continentals were reorganized into three new regiments. It is possible that WB enlisted at Halifax in the fall of 1778 as a drafted militiaman for nine months, served in the temporary 4th NC Reg., and then re-enlisted as a regular soldier. The fact that he was discharged in the fall of 1781, however, makes it more likely that he enlisted as a regular soldier for three years in the 4th NC Reg. when it was reorganized at Halifax in the fall of 1778.

The transcript later states that WB "went into Charleston & was there taken prisoner on May 26, 1780- & remained a prisoner until the 27 July same year was then exchanged & then was put in the 6th Reg. North Carolina line, Col Henry Dixon, Liut Col Robert Mayben, Maj. Donoho, Capt Edward Yarborough- served under Capt Yarborough to the end of the war...." Actually, NC regiments dissolved after the surrender Charleston and were not formed again until Feb. 1782, after WB was discharged. Capt. Donoho had been in the 6th NC Reg. before it was dissolved at Valley Forge, but he did not become a Major until Oct. 1781. Maj. Henry Dixon was in the 3rd NC Regiment until a few days before the fall of Charleston, when he was promoted to Lt. Col. (retroactive to 1778) and given command of the NC Militia. The 3rd NC Reg. was commanded by Lt. Col. Robert Mebane (not "Mayben") until he was captured at Charleston. Edward Yarborough was a captain in the 3rd NC Reg. before the surrender of Charleston. It appears, therefore, that after arriving at Charleston, WB was actually in the newly organized 3rd NC Reg until it was disbanded after the surrender.

After Charleston Pvt. Blackard was most likely in Captain Yarborough's company in Lt. Col. Dixon's militia regiment, since he mentioned serving under Yarborough and Dixon. Combining Continentals with militia was necessary because there were so few of the former. The list of battles and dates in the transcript is much more consistent with the chronology: "...to Halifax county, & then South Carolina to Edisto River above Charlston & then Stono River & was in the battle of Stono- Genl Lincoln was commander in chief [erasure; "who" inserted] was there wounded- from the battle of Stono went into Charleston & was there taken prisoner on May 26, 1780- & remained a prisoner until the 27 July same year was then exchanged & then was put in the 6th Reg. North Carolina line... was in Gates defeat aug 16, 1780- then in Guildford battle March 15 1781- then the battle of Camden April 23d 1781- then the Eutau Spring battle Sept. 8th 1781 Green commanded. Was discharged Nov. 15, 1781." The transcript suggests that WB went from Halifax County to the Edisto River before going to Charleston. He would have crossed the upper reaches of the Edisto to join Lincoln at his camp at Black Swamp SC, and again when going to Stono River. Contrary to the transcript, Lincoln was not wounded at Stono River, but Dixon was. The erasure and insertion at that point suggest some confusion about WB's testimony. Charleston was actually surrendered on May 12, but perhaps it was not until the 26th that the British formally processed him as a prisoner. Most rank-and-file prisoners at Charleston were kept on prison ships until exchanged the following January. I have not been able to find any explanation for how WB would have been exchanged early.

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Table 2 below is an attempt to resolve the contradictions and present a more likely outline of Willoughby Blackard's Revolutionary War service.

Table 2. A more likely chronology for Willoughby Blackard.
9 Dec 1775 WB a civilian volunteer at Battle of Great Bridge 1 near Norfolk VA.
Fall 1778 Enlisted in 4th NC Reg. of Continental Army at Halifax.
April 1779 Arrived in Sumner's Brigade at Lincoln's camp at Black Swamp SC.
23 April Left Black Swamp with Lincoln's army for Augusta GA.
10 May Left march to Georgia with Lincoln for Stono Ferry.
20 June In Sumner's (renamed Armstrong's) Brigade at Battle of Stono Ferry SC.
Jan In 3rd NC Reg. at Charleston.
12 May 1780 Surrendered at Charleston.
27 July Exchanged at Charleston.
16 Aug In Lt. Col. Dixon's Militia at first Battle of Camden SC.
15 Mar 1781 Battle of Guilford Court House NC.
26 Apr Battle of Hobkirk's Hill (Second Battle of Camden).
8 Sep Battle of Eutaw Springs.
15 Nov Discharged from Army.

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ENDNOTES

1. For contemporaneous accounts of the Battle of Great Bridge, see the Virginia Gazette

2. Rosters and other records of individual NC soldiers are found in:

  • Revolutionary War Rolls 1777-1783: North Carolina. Jacket Number 1-1 through 23. Microcopy No. 246. Washington, DC: National Archives.
  • Roster of Soldiers from North Carolina in the American Revolution. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. 2000. (Reprint of 1932 edition published by North Carolina Daughters of the American Revolution.)

3. For information on NC regiments the most important sources are:

  • Rankin, H. F. The North Carolina Continentals. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1971.
  • Wright, R. K., Jr. The Continental Army. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, US Army, 1983.

4. Additional sources used in tracing WB before Charleston:

  • Mattern, D. B. A Moderate Revolutionary: The Life of Major General Benjamin Lincoln. Doctoral Dissertation. Columbia University, 1990.
  • Moultrie, W. Memoirs of the American Revolution. New York: Arno Press, 1968 (reprint of 1802 edition).

5. Additional sources used in tracing WB after his exchange at Charleston:

  • Baxley, C. New order of battle based on Battle of Camden pension statements (thru 01-03-04). http://battleofcamden.org/amercdrs.htm. Accessed 22 Feb. 2004.
  • Conrad, D. M. (Ed.) The Papers of Nathanael Greene, Vol. IX: 11 July - 2 December 1781. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
  • Showman, R. K. (Ed.) The Papers of Nathanael Greene. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Vol. VI: 1 June 1780 - 25 December 1780, 1991. Vol. VII: 26 December 1780 - 29 March 1781, 1994. Vol. VIII: 30 March 1781 - 10 July 1781, 1995.

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