An Anecdote from the Wartime Service of Gassaway Watkins

Gassaway Watkins, one of the men of the Maryland 400, wrote down a brief account of his service before he died. Unfortunately, only part of the document still exists, as evident by its abrupt end. However, the sketch is long enough to include an interesting anecdote from his later service. The following story occurs soon after the Battle of Cowpens in February 1781.

“I left camp with orders from General Greene and was with the retreating militia, two miles from the battle ground. At twelve o’clock that night, I stopped at a house on the road, cold, wet, and hungry, but got nothing to eat. There were at least one hundred persons in the house.

“My dress was noticed by an old man of the country, who asked to speak in private with me. He told me there were enemies as well as friends in the house and offered his services to me. I started in a few moments after, and told him what I wanted. He was faithful. We rode all night and got to the foard[sic], about ten o’clock next morning. The trees came tumbling one after the other down the Yadkin. The old man said it was impossible to cross.

“I was satisfied there was nothing to stop the enemy and wish of my general to bring his troops to a point near action, so I immediately pulled off my coat and boots, put the despatches [sic] in the crown of my hat, tied it on my head, took leave of my friend, who , with tears in his eyes, wished me well, and with difficulty crossed the river. My guide and friend expressed his joy by throwing up his hat and I returned it with gratitude, About seven o’clock I got to headquarters and was received by Generals Greene and Morgan.”

Found in :
Warfield, J. D. The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland. (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollock, 1905), 413-414.

To read Gassaway Watkins’ complete biography click here.

-Daniel

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