Most of us know that North Carolina was a leader in declaring independence and speaking out against British atrocities during colonial times. Many have heard of The Mecklenburg Declaration of May 1775 and the Halifax Resolves of April 1776. But how many of you know about the Tryon Resolves of August 1775?
The Tryon Resolves were a brief declaration adopted by the citizens of Tryon County in North Carolina in the early days of the American Revolution. In the Resolves, the county vowed resistance to coercive actions by the government of Great Britain against its North American colonies. The document was signed on August 14, 1775.
The Tryon Resolves Association was created in response to the Battle of Lexington. The Resolves were among the earliest of many local colonial declarations against the oppressive policies the British government had instituted in the colonies. Other similar declarations from the same period included the Mecklenburg Resolves (adopted in nearby Mecklenburg County, North Carolina) and the Suffolk Resolves (adopted in Suffolk County, Massachusetts). The Tryon Resolves predated the United States Declaration of Independence by almost 11 months but stopped short of proscribing independence from Britain. Instead, support for armed resistance was emphasized until a resolution with Britain could be made.
As tensions between the North American colonies and the British government continued to increase, county residents began forming Committees of Safety to prepare militia companies for a potential war. On September 14, 1775, many of the signers of the Tryon Resolves formed the Tryon County Militia in preparation for British retaliation against American revolutionaries.
In the Tryon Resolves:
The county residents refer to “the painful necessity of having recourse to arms in defense of our National freedom and constitutional rights, against all invasions;
Vow to take up arms and risk our lives and our fortunes in maintaining the freedom of our country…”
The colonists declare they will continue to follow the Continental Congress or Provincial Conventions in defiance of British declarations that were illegal;
The signers warn that force will be met with force until such a time as a “reconciliation” can be made between the colonies and Britain.
We all know that North Carolinians eventually had to take up arms in the pursuit of liberty through complete separation from Great Britain. Many of the descendants of those very men found themselves, once again, faced with fighting tyranny when Lincoln called for troops from North Carolina to aid in “suppressing the rebellion” of her fellow Southern states.
The precise number of Confederate soldiers from each state is unknown because many military records were destroyed when Richmond was evacuated in 1865.
However, according to Randolph H. McKim in his book, The Numerical Strength of the Confederate Army,the top five with largest enrollment into the Confederate army were:
North Carolina: 129,000
James McPherson broke down the geographical distribution of Confederate soldiers even further in his book For Cause and Comrades:
State / Estimated % of all Confederate Soldiers:
North Carolina 15%
South Carolina 6%
According to The Battlefield Trust, of the Confederate states, Virginia and North Carolina had the highest number of military deaths, with approximately 31,000 each.
The 26th North Carolina, hailing from seven counties in the western part of the state, suffered 714 casualties out of 800 men during the Battle of Gettysburg. The following excerpt from an official report outlines the roll played by North Carolina Regiments:
O.R.– SERIES I–VOLUME XXVII/2 [S# 44]
JUNE 3-AUGUST 1, 1863.–The Gettysburg Campaign.
No. 549.–Reports of Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, C. S. Army, commanding division.
HEADQUARTERS HETH’S DIVISION,
Camp near Orange Court-House, September 13, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to report the operations of my division from June 29 until July 1, including the part it took in the battle of Gettysburg (first day), July 1.
The division reached Cashtown, Pa., on June 29. Cashtown is situated at the base of the South Mountain, on the direct road from Chambersburg, via Fayetteville, to Gettysburg, and 9 miles distant from the latter place.
The division had not advanced more than 100 yards before it became hotly engaged. The enemy was steadily driven before it at all points, excepting on the left, where Brockenbrough was held in check for a short time, but finally succeeded in driving the enemy in confusion before him. Brockenbrough’s brigade behaved with its usual gallantry, capturing two stand of colors and a number of prisoners. The officer who made the report of the part taken by Brockenbrough’s brigade in this day’s fight has omitted to mention the names of the officers and soldiers who distinguished themselves on this occasion.
Pettigrew’s brigade encountered the enemy in heavy force, and broke through his first, second, and third lines. The Eleventh North Carolina Regiment, Colonel Leventhorpe commanding, and the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment, Colonel Burgwyn, jr., commanding, displayed conspicuous gallantry, of which I was an eye-witness. The Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment lost in this action more than half its numbers in killed and wounded, among whom were Colonel Burgwyn killed and Lieutenant-Colonel Lane severely wounded. Colonel Leventhorpe, of the Eleventh North Carolina Regiment, was wounded, and Major Ross killed. The Fifty-second and Forty-seventh North Carolina Regiments, on the right of the center, were subjected to a heavy artillery fire, but suffered much less than the Eleventh and Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiments. These regiments behaved to my entire satisfaction.
Pettigrew’s brigade, under the leadership of that gallant officer and accomplished scholar, Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew (now lost to his country), fought as well, and displayed as heroic courage as it was ever my fortune to witness on a battle-field. The number of its own gallant dead and wounded, as well as the large number of the enemy’s dead and wounded left on the field over which it fought, attests better than any commendation of mine the gallant part it played on July 1. In one instance, when the Twenty-sixth North Carolina Regiment encountered the second line of the enemy, his dead marked his line of battle with the accuracy of a line at a dress parade.
Archer’s brigade, on the right (Col. B. D. Fry commanding), after advancing a short distance, discovered a large body of cavalry on its right flank. Colonel Fry judiciously changed his front, thus protecting the right flank of the division during the engagement. This brigade (Archer’s), the heroes of Chancellorsville, fully maintained its hard-won and well-deserved reputation. The officer making the report of the part it played in the first and second charges has failed to particularize any officer or soldier who displayed particular gallantry, which accounts for no one being named from this gallant little brigade. After breaking through the first and second lines of the enemy, and several of the regiments being out of ammunition, General Pender’s division relieved my own, and continued the pursuit beyond the town of Gettysburg.
At the same time that it would afford me much gratification, I would be doing but justice to the several batteries of Pegram’s battalion in mentioning the assistance they rendered during this battle, but I have been unable to find out the names of the commanders of those batteries stationed at the points where important service was rendered, all reports of artillery officers being made through their chief.
My thanks are particularly due to Major Pegram for his ready co-operation. He displayed his usual coolness, good judgment, and gallantry.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Capt. W. N. STARKE,
Asst. Adjt. Gen., Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia.
North Carolina’s sons and daughters sacrificed greatly in defense of their homes. When the war ended, the suffering , sadly, did not.
Another stand that was taken by North Carolina was the rejection of the proposed Fourteenth Amendment by a forty-five to one vote in the Senate, and by ninety-three to ten in the House. Even though it failed the requisite number of state ratifications, it was hurried through and UNCONSTITUTIONALLY enacted by Radical Republicans on order to maintain national political hegemony.
It is interesting to read the words of Governor Jonathan Worth to his son concerning the amendment:
“To D. G. Worth
Oct. 24, 1867
You ask me my opinion as to how the people of this State should vote on the calling or refusing to call a Convention under the military acts falsely called re-construction acts.
These acts require the Convention to amend the State Constitution so as to allow universal negro suffrage. They declare that we are to be allowed representation in Congress only after the disfranchising Howard amendment shall be adopted and that no member of Congress shall be recognized unless he can take this test oath.
This Convention is called by Congress-not by the State: Congress determines who shall vote and who shall not, in violation of the Constitution of the U.S., which leaves it to the State to determine who shall vote and who shall not vote-and allows each State to regulate internal affairs, not inconsistent with the United States.
As this Convention must establish negro suffrage, those only should vote for such Convention, who believe it is constitutionally called and that universal negro suffrage is expedient and that nobody should hold office save those who can take the teste oath. As I believe that the call of a Convention is in violation of the Constitution of the United States…”
Were Southern states punished for seeking independence? I think we all can answer that question.
The committee of the Legislature, to which the amendment was referred, recommending rejection, stated:
“What the people of North Carolina have done, they have done in obedience to her own behests. Must she now punish them for obeying her own commands? If penalties have been incurred, and punishments must be inflicted, is it magnanimous, is it reasonable, nay, is it honorable, to require us to become our own executioners? Must we, as a State, be regarded as unfit for fraternal association with our fellow citizens of other States until after we shall have sacrificed our manhood, and banished our honor?
Like a stricken mother, the State now stands leaning in silent grief over the bloody graves of her slain children. The momentoes of her former glory lie in ruins around her. The majesty of sorrow sits enthroned upon her brow. Proud of her sons who have died for her, she cherishes, in her heart of hearts, the loving children who were ready to die for her and she loves them with a warm affection.”
WHEREAS, it hath pleased Almighty God, the Sovereign Disposer of events, to protect and defend us hitherto in our conflicts with our enemies as to be unto them a shield.
And whereas, with grateful thanks we recognize His hand and acknowledge that not unto us, but unto Him, belongeth the victory, and in humble dependence upon His almighty strength, and trusting in the justness of our purpose, we appeal to Him that He may set at naught the efforts of our enemies, and humble them to confusion and shame.
Now therefore, I, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, in view of impending conflict, do hereby set apart Friday, the 15th day of November, as a day of national humiliation and prayer, and do hereby invite the reverend clergy and the people of these Confederate States to repair on that day to their homes and usual places of public worship, and to implore blessing of Almighty God upon our people, that he may give us victory over our enemies, preserve our homes and altars from pollution, and secure to us the restoration of peace and prosperity.
Given under hand and seal of the Confederate States at Richmond, this the 31st day of October, year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty one.
By the President, JEFFERSON DAVIS
During this time we all are reflecting upon our blessings and giving thanks to God, are we remembering to be thankful for our legacy as North Carolinians and Southerners? Are we still standing up for liberty and against tyranny? Are we afraid to show our pride in our heritage?
Recently, we’ve seen veteran memorials removed by local authorities in contradiction to state law. We’ve seen our memorials vandalized. Everywhere we turn, we’re surrounded by destruction and are embroiled in a battle against lies and bigotry.
Show your gratitude for your history by supporting the North Carolina SCV in their efforts to preserve and maintain our memorials and heritage!
The Battlefield Trust
www.Circa1865.orgThe Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, collected and edited by J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., 1909, pp.1058-1059. George Davis Memorial Address, H.G. Conner, Unveiling of the George Davis Statue at Wilmington, NC, April 20, 1911, by the Cape Fear Chapter, UDC
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