Sunday, May 24, 2015

Revolting relatives

I've been spending Memorial weekend reading up on relatives who fought in the American Revolution. Like cousin Jimmy Merrill. He was only 16 when he was shot on August 27, 1776, at the Battle of Long Island, the first major battle after the Declaration of Independence and the largest battle of the war in terms of the number of soldiers involved. Letters home to Hopewell, New Jersey, reported that Jimmy's wound was healing, and he was getting better. Then word came that he had died. "Slain in ye field of Battle contending for our just rights," reads the stone at Old School Baptist Church in Hopewell. 
Magnus Tullock, a ggggreat uncle on my mother's side,  started serving as a fifer when he was just 13 years old, and had only lived in this country for two years. He served under Capt. John Bowie. Magnus piped that company to battle at Brier Creek in Georgia and Stono Ferry near Charleston, S.C. Little did he  know that among the 1,500 patriot soldiers in the South Carolina marsh was Benjamin Merrell, another gggggreat uncle on my father's side. 
Benjamin's brother, Daniel Merrell, my direct ancestor, was back in Randolph County, North Carolina where the war had turned to guerrilla tactics. Even after he had been discharged from the official military, Daniel was called up regularly to help arrest bands of Tories who were terrorizing women and children and burning homes. On one of these short tours -- April 15, 1781-- Daniel's horse was shot out from under him and he was struck in the head with a broadsword. The wound must not have been too bad. Daniel lived another 63 years, fathered six children and married four wives!

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