Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Col. Moore of Caswell County, NC: Stephen or William?

Please see the comment on Stephen Moore Genealogy in which Terri O'Neill calls into question where General Nathaniel Greene camped. This is the article she wrote in the Moore / Stanford / Webb Chronicles in 1994. -- David Jeffreys

Col. Moore of Caswell County, NC:
Stephen or William?

In the course of studying Stephen Moore as he moved his family from New York to North Carolina and established himself as a planter, merchant and citizen active in local affairs, there have been several instances of a Col. Moore of Caswell County being mentioned, but it didn’t seem likely that it was Stephen Moore to whom the reference was made. Using many varied sources, it soon became apparent that there were several Moore families living in the area of Orange County that in 1777 became Caswell County, and that there were two men who later were referred to as Colonel Moore of Caswell. Some of the citations to events that were attributed to Stephen Moore are more likely to have occurred in the life of Col. William Moore.

Col. William Moore appears in the records of Caswell County from its formation in 1777. William S. Powell’s When the Past Refused to Die: History of Caswell County 1777-1977 lists six men by the name of Moore/More in the northern part of Orange County who signed a petition to Gov. Tryon in 1771 to form a new county: Arthur, James, John, George, Richard and William, and later records list Abram, Dempsey, Moses and Samuel Moore. The same book states that in 1777 William Moore served on a commission charged with finding and laying out the place where the court house, prison & stocks would be built, was appointed one of the first Justices of the County (as was Stephen Moore), and was chosen Clerk of the Court. In addition, William Moore was appointed as an overseer of certain roads, and was designated a Lt. Col. of the state militia. These offices closely parallel the offices and appointments of Stephen Moore. Examination of the tax lists and deed records helps to distinguish between the two men. William Moore’s land holdings were in the western part of the county, while Stephen Moore’s were in the south east corner of the county which was eventually incorporated into Person County in 1792. According to the Revolutionary War pension applications of several different men, William Moore was already an active Militiaman when Stephen Moore arrived in North Carolina in late 1775 or early 1776. The pension application of James Turner states that he served two tours of duty in 1776 under Col. William Moore, one of 2 months duration from April to June, the other from July to September. This second tour was an expedition against the Indians on the western NC frontier. James Turner’s third tour commenced 29 May 1780 under Col. Stephen Moore, and he then participated in the Battle of Camden.

The Battle of Camden, SC, occurred on 16 Aug 1780, and both Col. Stephen Moore and Col. William Moore were there with their respective North Carolina Militia units. The key fact is that Col. Stephen Moore was captured and sent to Charlestown as a prisoner of war, but Col. William Moore escaped capture and returned home. Col. Stephen Moore was not exchanged until the following June, 1781.

From various other pension applications, it is possible to determine that William Moore participated in many expeditions, skirmishes and battles of the war:
Apr 1776-J Turner’s application
Jul 1776-J Turner, J Ray
1778 or 9-Indian expedition-McBroom
Camden-Aug 1780-J Dollar, B Long, J Clayton
Pyle’s Defeat-Feb 1781-T Miles
Guilford CH-Mar 1781W McMenemy, A McBroome

There are three specific instances in which the records concerning “Col. Moore of Caswell” can be easily confused. Since all three are during or very near the time of Stephen Moore’s captivity, it is very likely that the three events refer to William Moore. According to North Carolina State Records, Vol. 19, p. 383, Stephen Moore served in the May 1780 session of the Assembly which took place in New Bern from April 17th to May 10th. Allowing for travel time, Stephen was surely back in Caswell county by May 20th at which time he was probably engaged in Militia activities. The pension declaration of James Turner states that by the end of May or beginning of June, their march toward Camden had begun. The battle took place on 16 August 1780. Again citing NC State Records, Vol. 14, p. 384, on the 21st of September 1780, the Board of War wrote to Gen. Butler, who had escaped capture at Camden: “Inclosed is a list of the Articles taken by Colonel Moore of Caswell, out of a Waggon belonging to this State, on its way here. [Hillsborough in Orange County] You will direct Colonel Moore to produce the Potts, Kettles, &c for the use of your Brigade; also to account for the Bar Iron. Two Hundred and Seventy Weight appears to be too large a Quantity for any use he could have; it is an Article much wanted by the public, and Colo. Moore ought to produce it.” William Moore had been at the Battle of Camden, too, but he also escaped capture. It was apparently he who took “Articles” out of the “Waggon” since Stephen Moore was on his way to, or already at Charlestown during this period of time.

The second event takes the form of a letter dated 26 February 1781, from Gen. Nathanael Greene written from “Headquarters, Col. Moore’s” in Caswell County to Col. Campbell. At this time, Stephen Moore was a prisoner in Charlestown, SC. The date of the letter is just prior to Greene’s engagement with Lord Cornwallis at Guilford Court House, 15 March 1781. Given the fact that Greene used Troublesome Creek in southern Rockingham County as a base of operations both before and after the Battle, and William Moore’s home was in the western part of Caswell County next to Rockingham County, while Stephen Moore’s home was in the southeast part of Caswell County, it is more likely that Greene was using William Moore’s place as his Headquarters when he wrote the letter.

The third item for consideration is taken from NC State Records, Vol. 15, p. 585: a letter from Maj. Reading Blount to Gen. Jethro Sumner dated 29th July 1781 says that “by Express from Col. Moore, Caswell County we are informed, that it’s thought in Virginia that the Enemy are about to embark for New York, occasioned by the arrival of a French Fleet at that place.” Stephen Moore had just been exchanged in June and according to his itinerary, he reached Tarboro on July 12th, 1781. William Moore’s movements during this time are only partially known. The early part of 1781 is well documented by pension applications. He had been wounded in February at an engagement called “Pyles’ Defeat”, and he had participated in the Battle of Guilford. After Guilford, Gen. Greene turned over pursuit of Cornwallis, who headed towards Wilmington, to the Militia, so it is possible that he was engaged in that activity. While it is uncertain what William Moore was doing while Stephen Moore was making his way back home, it seems unlikely that Stephen could have been reporting enemy troop movements and the sentiments of Virginians although it is possible that he picked up that intelligence on his journey home. William Moore is the more logical choice to have been the bearer of that news.

Eventually, William Moore moved to Smith Co., TN, and was living there in 1823, according to his own pension file. He was born about 1750, making him about 16 years younger than Stephen Moore.

Terri Bradshaw O’Neill, 1994 ©

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