The Tracy Family History
Guilford Court House
"Another such victory would be the ruin of the British army."
-- Charles Fox to the English Parliament
It would seem that the Americans were winning
the war in the South. The British had a long supply line: Starting in England,
by sailing ship to Charleston, down the roads and waterways to the British posts
and headquarters, finally to the army in the field. The Patriot guerrillas
picked the supply line to pieces.
The Americans had smashed the British at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. There were other, smaller battles throughout the South.
After Cowpens, the Americans were desperate. Morgan only had 1,600 men, Their clothing was so ragged it barely covered their bodies. This is all they had to protect them from the freezing cold, which caused many deaths and disabilities by exposure. Constant hunger added to the demoralization.
The Virginians had short enlistment's. Then they went home to protect their families and take care of their farms. Desperate for full time soldiers, the Americans created a special 18-month Continental enlistment for Virginia soldiers. It is a question if Capt. Andrew Wallace was now in the militia, or an 18-month Continental.
The Americans had a supply line problem. The British also cut the Rebels' desperately needed supply line: Tit-for-tat.
An angry Cornwallis, with 3,000 troops, and only 25 miles away, came charging after the victorious, miserable, Cowpens army.
The weather was miserable, cold and rainy. The roads were impossibly muddy. The Europeans always considered the American roads to vary from atrocious, to even more atrocious. In Europe both armies would have been in winter quarters.
In this miserable climate, Nathanael Greene's army marched to join up with Morgan.
Morgan goes home too ill to continue fighting and Greene takes command.
You will remember that I told you previously that Nathanael Greene had scouted the rivers that would control the battles.
There were only two ways of crossing the rivers: by fords (shallow spots where you could walk and drive wagons across), or by boat. There were not that many fords, or that many boats. Greene now started a brilliant retreat, which is studied by military minds today. He barely got to the fords first, successfully crossing with his army. When fords were not available, he had prepared in advance for a supply of boats. He crossed his army then destroyed the boats. He would feint towards one crossing then turn and go to another. This was not easy as the rivers were rising.
Cornwallis was desperate, insanely so. In order to move faster, Cornwallis ordered his wagon train destroyed. The British always tried to travel to battle in style, taking with them everything of comfort: tents, baggage wagons, fine china, cots. They even brought their own fodder in wagons for the horses. Cornwallis does what no European commander ever does. He destroys everything not necessary for a fast pursuit. Even the officers' mistresses are sent away.
They were now traveling fast, but with hardly any provisions. The land was picked clean.
Green begins his retreat. He headed north towards Virginia, the land of abundance.
Neither side was yet in the land of abundance. Again, the wet roads were nearly impassable. Everything collapsed and died on the retreat and pursuit. Both armies lost men due to exhaustion. Horses gave out. Food became so scare that one historian tells us that dried alligator, reserved only to feed hounds, became a favored course.
Greene was brilliantly drawing Cornwallis farther and farther from his base. The American army reached Virginia where they spent two weeks resting, gaining supplies, and militias.
Greene then took his army south, back again into North Carolina, to a spot where some weeks before he had chosen as his next battle site. Nathanael Green had picked his spot well by not allowing Cornwallis to maneuver him to a less advantageous site. The battle site was Guilford Courthouse.
Upon Morgan's advice, the battle plan would be the same as Cowpens. There would be three American lines. As usual, our people were in the thick of it. The second line was all Virginia militia. The Augusta and Rockbridge and Albemarle militias fought side by side, as was their pattern throughout the war in the South. Our people immigrated together, intermarried, and fought together.
This was to be a large battle. The Americans outnumbered the British two to one: 4,400 Americans to 2,000 British. According to the military wisdom at the time, an attacker needed a three to one advantage. This means that for Cornwallis to attack the Americans defensive position successfully, he should have had 14,000 soldiers. However, on the enemy side were the meanest, toughest, soldiers in the entire British army. All were battle-seasoned veterans under capable officers. Included were crack Hessians and Tarleton's Legion. The battle took place 15 March 1781, two months after Cowpens.
The Virginians were placed in the second line in a heavily wooded area, which offered concealment. Their job was to break the tightly formed British mass attacks.
It was the most brutal battle of the entire war.
At one point, the British were about to suffer a collapse. Cornwallis personally fired a cannon into his own troops to stop the American charge.
The battle lasted 2 1/2 hours, ending with Green ordering his army off he field. He made a good strategic decision in retreating so he could stay out of battle, or start another battle of his choosing. Technically, Cornwallis was the victor, losing a quarter of his army and too many officers.
"Such fighting I have not seen since God made me. The Americans fought like demons."
Houston’s Rockbridge brigade was decimated
with half slain and most of the rest wounded.
It is reported that Colonel Samuel McDowell was in command of the Rockbridge and Augusta battalions. However, a little known report says that he was disabled by sickness at the last moment and the command went to another. The information I have says that Major Stuart took over command of the Augusta and Rockbridge Regiment, replacing McDowell.
A British officer rode into the American camp under a white flag. He explained to Nathanael Greene that the Americans had left the field of battle. According to the customs of war, Cornwallis assumed the Americans wished to surrender.
The Americans knew nothing about the customs of war and thought they had put up a pretty good fight.
Greene replied, “I am ready to sell His Lordship another field at the same price."
What was the price? The Americans suffered 80 killed and 180 wounded. (You did not consider the missing because the militia had a habit of going home after battle without telling anyone.)
The Virginians lost 11 killed. The Continentals lost 14 officers. At Guilford Courthouse, Uncle Captain Andrew Wallace was slain. Whether he was listed as Virginia militia, or a Continental casualty I do not know. Andrew, who had a shadowy role at Kings Mountain, won the battle of Cowpens, and died at Guilford Courthouse, was the fourth brother to loose his life for the liberty of his country.
Captain Andrew Wallace’s death: Before the battle he had a premonition of death. We know that the Virginians were fighting in a wooded area. Andrew Wallace is in close quarter combat. He stepped behind a tree for protection, stepped back out, and is struck the fatal blow.
It was the custom of the time to bury soldier's bodies where they fell, or in a mass grave on the battlefield. We do not know where the bodies of Malcolm, James, and Andrew lie, only that of Adam.
Dr. James Wallace (Who wrote an interesting will. That story is yet to come.), went into the enemy lines under a flag of truce to tend the American wounded. Throughout the war, during battle or between battles, doctors were welcome by both sides no matter what their political convictions.
Andrew Wallace would be the fourth son that my 6th great grandmother Martha Wallace Woods, sister to Magdelene, would sacrifice in the war. Years later, one of our cousins tells that whenever she visited the home of our Peter Wallace Jr., and his wife, Martha Woods, all the couple talked about was the bravery of their six sons.
Wallace, Captain Andrew of the 8th Virginia was killed at Guilford, 1781. According to Waddell's Annals of Augusta, he and (Capt.?) Thomas Bowyer were present at King's Mountain and reported killed. Question: Could Thomas Bowyer have been the second detached captain sent by Nathanael Greene? If “yes,” then it goes a long way toward explaining why these two men were sent to lead the American army at King's Mountain. Bowyer would have been from the family of Magdalene's third husband. It makes sense to send two officers from such powerful and related families.
You will notice that none of the six brothers would rise above the rank of captain even though they fought bravely and competently throughout the war. This had nothing to do with their ability. Rising through the officers ranks in the Continental Army was agonizingly slow. You will notice the higher ranks in our militias, even though a militia colonel was nowhere near the ability of a Continental colonel.
The British were desperate. The troops were out of everything to sustain life, let alone to fight a war. Everything was gone: ammunition, food, shoes (Shoes wore out fast on the march.), everything was lacking. The British started their retreat.
On the way back they tried to recruit the local Tories, announcing to the countryside that they had won a great victory. The Tories came in, looked at the victorious army: All historians describe the Tory reactions the same; "…and went back home."
Cornwallis would wind up at Yorktown, losing his chain of forts along the way. Eight months later Cornwallis surrendered
We have the statement of the soldier who personally knew two Wallace brothers and testified as to his knowledge that they died. (Apparently this was for the purpose of the two brother's rights to land bounty.)
"…in February 1776 he enlisted under Adam Wallace then a first Lieutenant under Capt Thos Posey of the 7th Virginia Regiment- that Lt. Adam Wallace was promoted to a Captaincey and was killed at Buford defeat the twenty ninth day of May 1780-- that he _______was under his command when he was killed."
"That he also knew Andrew Wallace he served as a Lieutanant at the Point Pleasant state of Virginia-------the Continental army, as a Captain in the year 1777 a short time before the Battle of Brandywine. I know only by common report. And the general opinion of his acquainantces the he was killed at the Battle of Guilford."
Known Dead of the Revolutionary War
Wallace, Andrew Capt Va Killed 3-15-1781
Wallace, James Ens Va Died 8- 1777
Wallace, Robert Capt NH Died 10-10-1782
Wallace, Samuel NH Died 7-29-1778
Wallace, Thos Pvt 10 NC Died 10- 1781
(Va). Captain 12th Virginia, 13th March, 1777; transferred to 8th Virginia, 14 September, 1778; killed at Guilford, 15th March, 1781.
Lieutenant Thomas Wallace, of the Virginia Line, was commissioned November 23, 1779, as a Lieutenant in the 8th Virginia Regiment, and served to November 19, 1781, when he received marching orders to join the southern armies in the Carolinas.
The famous Pennsylvania Line bore the brunt of battle from the beginning to the end of the war. They were almost all Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. I have told you the story of our people in Virginia and the Carolinas. Remember, we still had a lot of unknown people in Pennsylvania.
Andrew Wallace will
“...devises to his sister, Susannah, his roan horse (war horse?) and a yard and one half of scarlet for a cloak. (This must have been valuable cloth as there was a scarcity of all basic things during the war, as in all wars.); he likewise gives to his sisters, Janet (Jenet) and Susannah, 50 pounds of money.”
"The fact that the inventory of his (Andrew Wallace) estate included a green military jacket, a scarlet cape, a Hessian sword, a war horse, and assorted gold and silver buttons and buckles causes me to wonder if the Hessian sword was liberated in an earlier engagement, and perhaps the green military jacket as well. Or the green military jacket might have been a hand-me-down from his father, who was a Col. in the French and Indian War." "It was from the inventory of his estate that I got the description of his uniform that I had reproduced and have been wearing for nearly 30 years now."
"He was first commissioned in the 12th Virginia Regiment (enlisted 13 March 1777), Continental Line. He was then merged into the 7th Virginia Rgt., and finally into the 2nd, which was surrendered at Charleston. Before ordering my uniform, I check diligently for current references to description for the uniforms worn by these units, only to discover there is no description anywhere of the uniforms worn by these units. I have been intending to research the service record of Capt. Andrew Wallace after discovering that my green military jacket is almost a dead ringer for the Hessian uniform. It makes me wonder if he might have liberated not only his sword but also his uniform, for I have no information he was even near Trenton."
"The brief description of Andrew's military uniform contained in the inventory of his estate is the most information existing about the uniform of any of the Virginia outfits he commanded, and the truth of the matter is that none of them had any uniforms of any kind, but wore the same hunting jackets they would have worn if hunting squirrels at home. If they were issued guns, they would have been muskets with bayonets, the militia mostly brought their own, and they would have been rifles. Chances are there were not enough muskets for them to have been issued (let alone uniforms) and most would have carried rifles. They certainly did at Cowpens and Kings mountain. Officers would have had uniforms, if they could afford them. There were very few uniformed companies in the whole Revolutionary War."
-- Cousin Scott F Hosier Jr.
I have written just a few pages, a few lines, about the three major battles, which would determine the outcome of the war. Between these lines are many untold stories.
There are books written specifically about the battles of King's Mountain, Cowpens, and Guilford Courthouse. Again, being one of the turning points in the war, it is often covered in chapters of other books.
I can recommend two books on the War in the South: One is The War in the South, by Donald Barr Chidsey. This is a shortened version, well written and easy reading. Everything written by Chidsey is good.
A more detailed book is The Road to Guilford Courthouse, by John Buchanan.
These books are about the entire war in the Southern colonies. Again, there are several books just on the individual battles, for those of you who would like to go into the history more deeply.
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
2332 New Garden Rd.
Greensboro, NC 27410-2355
Open Daily: Closed New Years Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas
Free, 18-minute film, 2 1/4-mile self-guided tour, 29 monuments.
Of the six Wallace brothers, only two returned home: Samuel, and my 5th great grandfather, John. Samuel lived only three more years (b 1745 d 1786). Samuel was a Colonel and commander of Fort Young during the French and Indian War. He married Rebecca Anderson in 1770. (Notice the name Anderson comes up again.)
There was great enthusiasm for the war at the beginning. For the men sought quick fame and glory. As one year passed into another, the support diminished until it was necessary to institute a draft (single men only).
Was the American Revolutionary War a war for the independence of the 13 American colonies, or was it a war for Scottish independence? Was it a war that had started in Scotland centuries before that had been fought by our people from one generation to the next until it carried half-way round the world and was fought, and won, on another ground? Was it a war between our Scots and the Irish that started long ago and was carried from one generation to the next until, it also, was transported to another land? What we do know is that when our people left Scotland, and Ireland, to come to the Americas... they brought with them their bitter hatred of the English and the Irish.
Many of our people were there at Yorktown. When Cornwallis surrendered on Oct. 19, 1781, Scotland finally had its independence from England: Some of Scotland...anyway.
Footnote: By the end of the war England was not just fighting we Americans, but, also the French, Spain and Holland.
Who were the six Wallace brothers in historical perspective?
“These Scotch-Irish Presbyterians were of the class of men on whom Washington said he could rely in the dark hour of disaster.” – Rev. Neander Woods
“Michael Woods and Hanna Wallace had 101 grandsons and great grandsons that served in the Revolutionary War and, inconsideration of their social position at that time, all entered service with a commission.” –cousin Scott Hosier Jr.
This was just one branch of our might family. Scott says not to quote until I doubled checked the numbers, count them for myself. That is not necessary because true or not, it simply proves the point that we had a lot of people in this war.
When I first contacted the noted historian and certified genealogist, Don MacRae, I told him that I wanted to tell the story of how my Wallaces won the Revolutionary War with a little help from George Washington.
“Sounds like the Wallaces!” was his response.
That is the story of how our people pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor that we might be free.
Robert Wallace was inducted into Captain Bell’s company, about the last of September. John Woods substituted for Robert Wallace, then deserted from his command. He was fined 4 pounds, and ordered to be imprisoned 30 days.
Why did England lose the war?
“The first public voice in America for dissolving connection with
Great Britain, came not from the Puritans of New England, the
Dutch of New York, or the planters of Virginia,
but from the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians.”
"They call themselves Scotch-Irish, and are the bitterest railers against the Church of England that ever trod on American ground."-- Anglican minister, 1753
"Call this war by whatever name you may, only call it not an American rebellion; it is nothing more or less than a Scotch Irish Presbyterian rebellion." --Hessian officer,1778
We have lost America through the Irish.”-- Lord Mountjoy to
“You lost America by the Irish,” by James Monroe
or Madison, I think. In my thousands of pages of research I have
lost the exact source.
George Washington, in his darkest hour at Valley Forge, told how he would make his last stand. "If all else fails, I will retreat up the Valley of Virginia, plant my flag on the Blue Ridge, rally around the Scotch-Irish of that region, and make my last stand for liberty amongst a people who will never submit to British tyranny whilst there is a man left to draw a trigger."
Photo provided Don Long, Park Ranger.
Park rangers are immensely helpful when writing ones family history.
My family history web site has 79 chapters. If you would like to know more about
the other chapters then go to my
Home Page www.thetracyfamilyhistory.net