Broyhill Family History

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James Broyhill probably looked very
like this frontiersman painted by  Frederick Remington. With coonskin cap, buckskin jacket, breeches and boots,  he was an entirely different breed of man from the powder wigged Englishman  of the tidewater colonies.
     During 1778, it seemed as if the American Revolutionary War had come to a standstill. Earlier attempts to conquer the northern colonies had resulted in such sound defeats and heavy casualties that the British were ordered to make no offensive land operations into the interior, but were instead to raid seaports, burning ships and villages. The British used New York as a center of operations. The city contained thousands of Redcoats and its harbor was filled with English ships. General Washington did not have a navy and was unable to stop the naval attacks and did not have an army powerful enough to storm the city. This was frustrating to both sides, but the British broke the deadlock by shifting the offensive to the southern colonies.
     In December of 1778, British forces captured Savannah, and then went on to occupy most of Georgia. The offensive was climaxed by the capture of Charleston on May 12, 1780. The British Commander, General Lord Cornwallis, planned to follow up the victory with a complete conquest of the Carolinas. Charleston merchants resumed trade with England, the former royal governor took over, and to all appearances the Palmetto State was back in the British Empire. General Washington responded by sending the seasoned Maryland and Delaware line regiments southward under General DeKalb.  The colonists perceived the Southern Offensive as a prelude to an invasion of North Carolina and Virginia. Both colonies quickly began forming militia units to curb the coming attacks. Among these was the Virginia Militia unit formed by Captain Paul Waddleton of Halifax County, Virginia. James said he enlisted in the unit in the Spring of 1980 and that he believed that there was a lieutenant named Irwin and a Captain Fountain, both from Halifax.
     His unit marched to Hillsboro, North Carolina, where it was put under the command of General Stephens. James said that they spent about two months there. History is filled with stories of enthusiastic young men anxious to go to war and apparently those of James' unit were no exception. He tells us that they called their companies "the Honest First," "the Black Guard Second," "the Bloody Third," and "the Lousy Fourth." His company was attached to the first regiment and he thought his Colonel's name was Holt Richardson; the adjutant was Samuel Cobbs; and his company commander was Captain Fountain.
     The troops from Maryland and Delaware endured incredible hardships. The states they passed through failed to provide food and other supplies and half starved soldiers gorged on peaches, green corn, and raw beef. When they arrived in Hillsboro on June 22, 1780, virtually every unit was plagued by widespread dysentery.
    When news of Charleston's fall reached Congress it appointed Horatio Gates, the politician's favorite general to command the Southern Department, over DeKalb's head and against Washington's advice. Gates, when he took command at Hillsboro decided to advance on South Carolina. Against everyone's advice, he insisted on marching the sick men through the most direct route, one which led through pine forests, where there was no food, instead of following the longer wagon road, where there were many farms and an abundant food supply. During this forced march, the soldiers marched long hours over difficult roads. They were almost always hungry and the dysentery spread.
     On August 16, 1780, the rag tag army confronted the British at Camden.   The West Point Atlas of Military History shows that the site of the battle was a three quarter mile strip, flanked on both sides by heavy swamps. Gate's army was faced south. He placed the Virginia Militia on his left with its baggage train to the rear, the North Carolina

Regular soldier had uniforms, but were
 ill equipped to fight a processional army.

Militia in the center, and the Delaware-Maryland regiments on his left. His total army contained between 2600 and 3000 men actually fit for duty.
     Although Cornwallis had a smaller force, it consisted primarily of well trained regular soldiers, which, with their relatively short line of supply, were in good health and high spirits. And Cornwallis was an outstanding leader beloved by his men, where Gates was not.
     The resulting Battle of Camden was one of the fiercest fights of the Revolutionary War. The American militia units panicked at the first bayonet charge; DeKalb, mortally wounded, held the field with the Maryland and Delaware Line, which stood its ground. General Gates, witnessing his fleeing militia, jumped on his racehorse and ran away as quickly as he could, deserting his unit. He didn't stop until he reached Charlotte, North Carolina, sixty miles from the battlefield. This battle,- which James referred to as "Gates Defeat" - finished the general's military career. It has been called the worst military defeat in American history.
     James declared, "I remember at Hillsboro, General Gates, General DeKalb, Colonel Hovey, and General Morrison ...Our command immediately broke and retreated in complete rout until we reached Mast Ferry on the Peedee River." James did not see the battle as he was with the baggage wagons, possibly doubled up with intestinal pain, as were many of his comrades.
     The green Virginia Militia had been chased away from its first major battle, and James, along with his fellow soldiers, returned to Hillsboro, where the unit was disbanded. No formal written discharges were issued. The soldiers just wandered home, individually and in small groups.
     North Carolina then lay open to Cornwallis. He marched into it initially hampered only by a few minor attacks by hastily organized militia units. On October 7, 1780, one of his armies was completely slaughtered at what is now known as the Battle of Kings Mountain.

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