Friday, January 4, 2008

McDowells at Kings Mountain

From History of the McDowells and Connections, by John Hugh McDowell, pub. 1918, C. B. Johnston, pp. 235-237:

    Charles McDowell had organized the clan into a compact, formidable force. The proposed scene of conflict was in his district, and, under military rules then in force, he was entitled to command. When, however, it became apparent that jealousy might impair the efficiency of the little army, he cheerfully agreed to go to Mecklenburg 
or Rowan and invite General Davidson to take charge. After he had left on this mission it was deemed by the council of war best to attack Ferguson before his forces could be strengthened by Cornwallis, and the result indicated the wisdom of this conclusion. Governor Shelby published an account in 1823, in which, after lauding General Charles McDowell as a patriot and a brave and able officer, he said that after it was decided by the council to send to headquarters for a general officer to take command, Charles McDowell requested, as he could not command, to be allowed to take 
the message, and added that "He accordingly started immediately, leaving his men under his brother, Major Joseph McDowell." (Wheeler's History, Part 2, page 59.) It was Shelby who next day made the generous move to place Campbell in command to obviate the danger of delay. Within the next twenty years some of the lineal descendants of Joseph McDowell, of Pleasant Gardens, have insisted that the command of the Burke men at King's Mountain devolved on their ancestor, not on his cousin Joseph, of Quaker Meadows. The writer would be rejoiced to be convinced that this contention is well founded, but is constrained to conclude that it is not. Shelby had come over with Sevier, at the instance of Charles McDowell, under whose command he had previously fought, with all three of the McDowells, at Musgrove's Mill, and other places. He must have known whether the brother or the cousin of Colonel Charles McDowell was next in rank to him, and he said it was the brother.
    “Poor's Sketches of Congressmen” state that Joseph McDowell who was born at Winchester, Va., in 1756, and died in 1801, was elected a member of the third and also of the fifth Congress, and commanded a portion of the right wing of the army that stormed King's Mountain. In a subsequent sketch of Joseph J. McDowell, he says he was born in Burke County, N. C., Nov. 13, 1800, was a son of Joseph McDowell, member from North Carolina, and was himself a member from 1843 to 1847. The widow of Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, left North Carolina with her little children and went to Kentucky soon after her husband’s death. His home was on the banks of the Johns River, near where Bishop Spangenburg must have encamped when he declared that the land was the most fertile he had seen in Carolina. These sketches have always been prepared after consultation with the member as to his previous history, and we must conclude that both father and son bore testimony to the truth of history—the father that he was in command, the son that such was the family history derived from his mother. Dr. Hervey McDowell, of Cynthiana. Ky., who presided over the first Scotch-Irish Convention, at Nashville, Tenn., and who died at the ripe age of four score, a year or two since, had devoted much of his life to the study of family history, and had conversed with members of the family who knew Joseph of Quaker Meadows, and Joseph of Pleasant Gardens, and were familiar with their history.
    Speaking of the agreement of Colonel Charles McDowell to go to headquarters, Dr. Hervey McDowell says:
    "He thereupon turned over the command of his regiment to his brother, Joseph, of Quaker Meadows, who was thus promoted from the position of Major, which he had held in his regiment, to that of acting Colonel, and in the regular order of promotion Captain Joe, of Pleasant Gardens (the cousin and brother-in-law of the other Joe) became Major Joe, he having been senior captain of the regiment." 

    With the rank, one of Colonel and the other of Major, these cousins of the same name led the brave sharpshooters who fought so heroically at Cow-Pens and in the many fights of less consequence. Sarah McDowell, a daughter of Captain John, who was killed by the Shawnees, married Colonel George Moffitt, a wealthy and distinguished officer in the war for independence. His accomplished daughter, Margaret, married Joseph McDowell, of Quaker Meadows, and her youngest sister became the wife of Joseph of Pleasant Gardens. The cousins served Burke County acceptably in the House of Commons and Senate of the State Legislature and in the Convention at Hillsboro, as they had both won distinction while fighting side by side on a number of battlefields. The writer has inclined to the opinion that both served in Congress, Joseph McDowell, Jr., of Pleasant Gardens, from 1793 to 1795, when he died, and Joseph, Sr., of Quaker Meadows, from 1797 to 1799. But this is still a debated question.