Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Col. Joseph "P.G." McDowell, per John Wheeler

From Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians, by John H. Wheeler, published Columbus, Ohio: Columbus Printing Works, 1884:

Colonel Joseph McDowell was born on 25th February, 1758, at Pleasant Gardens, in Burke County. He was always called Colonel Joe of the Pleasant Gardens, to distinguish him from General Joe of Quaker Meadows.
He was a soldier and a statesman, and the most distinguished of the name.
He early entered the profession of arms. At the age of 18 he joined General Rutherford in an expedition, in 1776, against the Cherokee Indians, in which he displayed much gallantry and desperate courage. It is known that in a hand-to-hand fight he killed an Indian chief with his sword.
He was active in repressing the Tories, and took part in the battle at Ramsour's Mill, on 20th June, 1780, near Lincolnton, as mentioned by General Graham in eulogistic terms, for his conduct on that occasion, and materially aided in achieving a complete victory over a superior force.
At Cane Creek, in Rutherford County, with General Charles McDowell, he led the militia, chiefly of Burke County, and had a severe skirmish with a strong detachment of Ferguson's army, then stationed at Gilbert Town, and drove them back.
Immediately afterward he aided in measures which culminated in the glorious victory of Kings Mountain.
This was the darkest period of the dubious conflict. Gates was defeated at Camden; Savannah and Charleston surrendered to the British; Sumter, at Fishing Creek, (18th August, 1780;) Cornwallis, in all the pride and circumstance of a conqueror, held the undisputed possession of Charlotte and its vicinity.
Ferguson, with strong force, was winning the attachment of the people from liberty to loyalty; while the Tories ravaged the whole country with vindictive fury.
There was not a regular soldier south of Virginia, and every organized force was scattered or disbanded. The time had come, and these brave men felt that they must do or die.
Amid all these disastrous circumstances, the patriotic spirits of Cleaveland, Campbell, Sevier, and McDowell did not despair. They determined to attack the forces of Ferguson. They were all of equal rank, and as the troops were in the district of Charles McDowell, he was entitled to the command.
From a manuscript letter of Shelby, in my possession, he says:

    Colonel [Charles] McDowell was the commanding officer of the district we were in, and had commanded the armies of the militia all the summer before, against the same enemy. He was brave and patriotic, but we considered him too far advanced in life and too inactive to command the enterprise.
    It was decided to send to headquarters [between Charlotte and Salisbury] for some general officer to command the expedition.
    Colonel McDowell, who had the good of his country more at heart than any title of command, submitted, and stated that he would be the messenger to go to headquarters. He accordingly started immediately, leaving his men under his brother, Major Joseph McDowell.
The next day Shelby urged that time was precious and delays dangerous. The advance was made. Colonel Joseph McDowell [of Pleasant Gardens], the subject of our present sketch, led the boys of Burke and Rutherford Counties to battle and to victory, (7th October, 1780,) and his command was on the right wing of the attacking forces, and aided greatly in insuring victory. Ferguson fell bravely fighting and his army completely routed.