As historians of early North Carolina know, John Barnwell, from South Carolina, along with the Indians loyal to South Carolina, laid waste to the Tuscarora in North Carolina during the Tuscarora War which began in 1711, continued through 1712 and 1713 with the destruction of Fort Neoheroka by Col. Moore, and culminated in 1715 with a treaty. The Tuscarora not killed were taken hostage and sold in South Carolina and the West Indies as slaves. Few from the southern Tuscarora towns escaped, but the northern towns, friendly and loyal to the English, for the most part were spared and were eventually lodged on the Tuscarora Indian reservation, Indian Woods, in Bertie County. This letter from John Barnwell describes plans for his second foray into North Carolina. Col. Moore’s devastating attack in 1713 would be the third mission to destroy the Tuscarora.
In January of 1712, Barnwell led a militia of thirty soldiers and 500 Indian allies to attack the Tuscarora fort, Narhantes (also known as Torhunta), on the Neuse River. According to Barnwell, Fort Narhantes was the Tuscarora’s largest and most warlike village. Despite several casualties, Barnwell took the fort on January 29, 1712.
After the victory at Narhantes, Barnwell then advanced to the Tuscarora’s fort in the village of Catechna. The Tuscarora successfully held off two attacks and, in order to save the white prisoners inside, Barnwell entered into a truce in exchange for their freedom. As part of the truce, twelve prisoners were released immediately and twenty-two were to be delivered twelve days later at Bachelors Creek near New Bern. When the appointed day came, the Tuscarora did not bring the prisoners. In preparing to strike again, Barnwell built Fort Barnwell on the site of the abandoned Indian village of Core Town (probably the home of Tuscarora Chief Core Tom) near the mouth of Contentnea Creek on the Neuse River, shown on the map below.
From that base Barnwell planned to march once again on Hancock’s Fort. On April 7, 1712, Barnwell led a ten-day siege against the fort. On April 17, with his men starving, Barnwell accepted the Tuscarora’s conditional surrender by which they gave up all of their prisoners, agreed not to hunt or fish in the region between the Neuse and the Cape Fear, and surrendered their chief, King Hancock. Many were critical of Barnwell for accepting the surrender rather than fighting on to total victory. Barnwell broke the treaty when his men lured some Indians into Fort Barnwell under the pretense of peace only to capture them and carry them to South Carolina to be sold into slavery.
These Minutes of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly [Extracts], include related instructions to John Foster and letter from John Barnwell to Edward Hyde
South Carolina. General Assembly; Hyde, Edward, 1667-1712; Barnwell, John, ca. 1671-1724
Volume 01, Pages 897-905
[Extracts From Journal of South Carolina House of Assembly, 1712.]
[No. 4—Page 4—Page 363 in original.]
Upon reading the 4th paragraph in Govrs speech
That the Governor & council be addressed to use what means they shall think most speedy & convenient to obtain intelligence from North Carolina of the state of our friends, enemies & our own army lately sent there, & that this House will readily concur in the charges incident to that design.
[Page 7—Page 368 original.]
Ordered That Thomas Nairne & Henry Noble Esqrs carry the following message to the Governor & Council ; vizt.
May it please your Honrs
The House of Commons taking notice of that part of yr Honrs speech recommending to us the consideration of some means, to be used to gain intelligence from North Carolina of the state of our friends, enemies & our army lately sent there; do not think we can more effectually answer that intimation, than by requesting yr Honrs to take such measure therein as you shall think most proper & expeditious, assuring yr Honrs that this House will readily concur with an order to defray the charges incident thereto out of the Public Treasury.
Wm RHETT Speaker.
[Page 8—Page 369 original.]
The House mett according to adjournment.
As Messages from the Gov. & council by Thomas Hepworth Esq. with a written message viz:
We are glad you concur with our opinion in sending to get the quickest intelligence from North Carolina, the endeavors, that have been used hitherto proving fruitless, we intend forthwith to send a vessel to Virginia believing the most effectual way to assure our end.
——————– page 898 ——————–
We have further under our consideration that it is necessary to send up to our Creek Indians, & use the best methods to keep them at home to prepare them to be in readiness to go to War against our Norther enemies, in case it shall be found requisite, when we have advice of the circumstances of our affairs in those parts.
We do further believe it advisable to send to our Northern Indians the Elaws & Wacksaws &c to assure them of our protection, & that we will take the best methods we can to keep them from the insults of their enemies, and encourage to plant good quantities of corn to supply our forces in case we shall have occasion to send any that way.
CHARLES CRA VEN.
[Page 93—Page 77 in original.]
Ordered: That Mr Henry Wigington & Mr Ralph Izard wait upon the Govr & Council & acquaint them that if they have received any Letters or Memorials from the Government of North Carolina, they would please send them for the perusal and information of this House. Henry Wigington Esq & Mr Ralph Izard being returned informed the House that they had acquainted the Governor & Council with the Message of this House, who answered that this House should hear from them immediately.
[Page 78 in the original.]
A message from the Governor & Council by Thos. Hepworth Esqr who brought the following message in writing.
The private instructions of Mr. Foster received & signed by Governor Hyde, we send you with this upon which he grounded that address he delivered to you this day, indeed his credentials are short and not regular, but we attribute that to the circumstances they are under, some charges he was to answer if any complaint was made by Col. Barnwell either on the Govr or Government, but no such thing appearing before us in publick manner, we look only upon the means how to succor them & therein must desire yr assistance, that nothing may be wanting on our parts to save them & secure the province to the Lords Proprs
CHARLES CRA VEN.
After having Canoe hands, provisions & other necessaries you are with the first conveniency & all the expedition you can make the best of yr way to Charles Town in South Carolina. When you are arrived deliver
——————– page 899 ——————–
yr Letters as they are directed & with all the expedition you can take the advice of some person you think most capable to advise you on the best & quickest methods in managing the concerns you go about which are: First; To obviate what misrepresentations & false aspersions may have been cast upon the Governor & Government (if any such be) by Col. Barnwell or any others. Then you are to use yr utmost endeavor to procure if possible 1000 Indians for our assistance with a few white men under a good Commander of known courage & conduct, that will not be biased by fear, friendship, or interest to represent to them that Col. Barnwell being much disliked here will not do well for that place.
Lastly; You (are) must endeavor to procure us 10 or 12 Barrels of powder, with shot answerable, & 2 or 3 thousand good gun flints.
For the first you must endeavor to find out what false representations or reflections hath been cast upon the Governor or Government, by Col Barnwell or any other & seeing the only thing he seemed to complain of here & to lay as the cause of his bad success, especially in not taking —— Fort was his want of provisions, If so, you must lay before the Governor & Council, That by reason of our disturbance last summer with Col. Cary & by reason of the great drought we had there were very small crops of corn made here, & likewise the Assembly a short time before Col. Barnwell’s arrival, refusing to agree to the raising of men & provisions for the defence of the Country & then having no notice of Col. Barnwell’s coming until his arrival, was the reason we were not so well provided at his arrival as we would otherwise have been.
And then we must lay before them that before the men appointed by the Assembly, that was after Col. Barnwell came in [Page 79—in original Page 95] could secure the corn to be spared in each of their Districts all of the people that had any corn to spare had laid it out with the vessels, & it was conveyed out of the country. But you may assure them that the Govr used his utmost endeavor both himself & by his friends to supply them. You may likewise lay before them that the fewness of the vessels here, & the difficulty and tediousness of the passage from this Country to Pamplico & Neuse, with the greatness of the number of the people there to be maintained was a great hindrance. That Col. B’s army (may be) was not as fully provided for as we desired.
You may likewise lay before them that they were never in such great want of provisions as to hinder them from any action as particularly at Hancock’s where you having been present can particularly inform them that the whole forces stayed there 3 or 4 days after the fort could have been taken.
——————– page 900 ——————–
Then as for procuring assistance from these you must lay before them we are in great need of assistance as ever, Our greatest & most numerous Enemies the Tusquerora Indians being little or nothing, either weakened or discouraged having lost but about thirty men by the best information we can hear, since Col. B’s arrival here & then Col. B & all his forces having been against Hancock fort twice & not taken it hath much encouraged them.
Then as for the pretended peace that Col B said he had made with them, that there is nothing in it, Barnwell himself saying it was a sham business to put them off until he was better prepared for them, neither hath he ever yet given accounts to us what it was, & then if there was a peace Col. B himself hath broken it by killing & taking several of the Indians since, who being along with Tusqueroras in Hancock Fort, were equally concerned in the peace with them.
You may likewise lay before them the late massacre of the people at Neuse & the shooting of some negros at Movetticos so there is great necessity of present help, which we the more earnestly desire of them, not only as being under the same Queen, the same Lords Proprs in the same Province but because we hope they will finish a good an honorable work as they have begun.
And likewise represent to them that help from Virginia or from the Cyneper Indians by means of the Govr of New York [Page 96—Page 81 original] would not do so well, neither for us, nor them, it being a fair way for the Lords Proprs to lose their Province to the Queen by reason of not being able to defend it. And that if the five nations of Indians should come in and destroy the Tuscaroras they would not only have all the advantage of the slaves but by pretending a privilege in the Tusquerora country that they had conquered, they would become bad neighbors to their Indians, either to destroy them, join with them against the Government.
Then you must lay before them the great advantage may be made of slaves, there being many hundreds of (them) women & children may we believe 3 or 4 thousand.
Next you may represent to them, that for their Indians subsisting when they come in, the Tusqueroras for their own relief, as we are informed have planted great quantities of——which is generally ripe next month, as also generally here their is appearance of good crops of wheat which is safe got in (no grain being to be transported) will be sufficient to maintain them.
——————– page 901 ——————–
Then lastly as for the ammunition, you must lay before them the general want of it, & that the effects of this country not being very vendible in Virginia will not purchase it. But knowing that they are generally in want of corn, if they send in ten or 12 barrels of powder, with shot answerable, and 2 or 3000 flints that the Government will take care here if they will send in Vessels & take their price for it next Spring, or they shall have it here in Indian corn, at country prices which is twenty pence a bushel, otherwise the Govern will send next Spring effects to raise the money as to pay for it.
[Page 82 in original.]
Ordered; That the said message be read, which was read accordingly, as also the said instructions.
Ordered; That Mr Sam1 Wragg & Henry Wigington Esqr carry the following message to the Govr & council.
May it please yr Honrs The House of Commons is ready to concur with you in prosecuting the most speedy means for the relief of the Government & people of North Carolina, & in order thereto, this House prays a grand conference of both Houses this evening at such place as yr Honrs shall direct.
[Page 99—Page 85 original.]
Friday August 8th 1712.
The House met according to adjournment.
Read: The petition of Col. John Barnwell.
Ordered: That it lie upon the Table.
[Page 101—87 in original.]
The House resuming the Debate on the affairs of North Carolina, & the assistance of that Government again implore from hence.
Resolved: That this House will again assist their Brethren of North Carolina, & prosecute the war against the Tusqueroras by applying the money yet unexpended of the sum of £4,000 raised for the relief of that Government.
[Page 226—206 original.]
Thursday Dec 17th 1713.
Ordered: That a Bill be drawn and prepared for settling a communication between this Province & North Carolina & that committee be appointed for that purpose, & that Col. Robert Daniel, Col. John Fenwick, Maj. George Evans, Mr Arthur Langhorne, and Mr Benj. De La Consseilliere, or any three of them be the said committee, and they to bring in the same next session.
——————– page 902 ——————–
House of Assembly, No 4, 1712.
The House taking under consideration the great service performed by Col. John Barnwell in the late expedition against the Tusqueroras for the relief of the Government of North Carolina.
[Page 89 in the Original.]
Resolved; That the thanks of this House be given to the said Col. John Barnwell for his said services.
Ordered; That Col. John Fenwick Capt. Peter Hann & Mr Benjamin Godin wait upon Col John Barnwell & return him the thanks of this House for his great services performed in heading our forces in the late expedition against the Tusqueroras for the relief of the Government of North Carolina.
The House adjourned to the Morrow morning 8, o the clock
Saturday August the 9th 1712.
The House met according to adjournment.
[Page 140—Page 129 in Original.]
The House taking under consideration the great service performed by Col. John Barnwell, a member of this House, in the late expedition to North Carolina against the Tusquerora Indians in actual rebellion against that Government.
That the sum of Sixty pounds be presented to the said Col. John Barnwell, by the Publick Receiver, out of the Publick Treasury as a Publick mark & testimony of the acknowledgement of this House for his extraordinary services performed in the late expedition against the Tusqueroras.
That an order be drawn to that purpose, & signed by Mr Speaker and sent to the Govr & Council for their Concurrence.
[Page 158—Page 147 in the original.]
A message from the Governor & Council by Thomas Hepworth Esqr with a written message relating to Col. John Barnwell with several papers &c.
——————– page 903 ——————–
That the said message & papers lye upon the Table for the perusal of the members of this House.
I will be always with the greatest regret when I am obliged to lay anything before the House that may touch any members of that Body, where I have received so many favours, & for whom I conceive so just a respect. The Honor of your House being concerned as well as my own makes me send you the enclosed papers, that you may better know how much Col. Barnwell hath done in the service of his country & what reward he meets. I always thought both Houses readily concurred in sending another army to North Carolina, but I find by Col. Barnwells Letter to Col. Hyde, that it was wholly owing to the great interest he had in the assembly, otherwise our Brethren had been wholly neglected by us; they had suffered more had he been absent from Parliament, than South Carolina did by his being sent thither.
But, whatsoever, affront he put upon Mr Hyde when in his Government he intended to have made satisfaction by preferring to this. I must own his country would have been obliged to if he had succeeded in his design, but I have not faith enough to affirm his Interest would have prevailed.
When I reflect after what manner he hath treated you Gent. I can hardly stop my resentments, but by remembering he is one of yr body for whom I have so great a veneration.
Ordered: That the papers sent by the Governor to this House together with the said messages, be read, and accordingby the following papers were read, viz.:
COL. BARNWELLS LETTER TO GOVERNOR HYDE.
South Carolina, Augst 18, 1712.
Right Hon1 It is seven weeks since my misfortune, & I fear it will be as much more before I recover my limbs, which the chirurgeon gives me hope of recovering In the meantime I suffer inexpressible torments, that I write this in great haste. I hope you will find (me) that I have been a faithful friend to you in all respects which I would be more able to be, had I been well and done myself the Honr of waiting on you. I am not able to enter into particulars, because of my pains, only I assure
——————– page 904 ——————–
you that notwithstanding all the good diligence of our two good friends the Governor and Mr Hart, our Assembly would let the war fall, except only by the Indians. Had I not taken the part of poor North Carolina & represented yr case & by my influence which is considerable, caused them to exert once more, which if it does not succeed, I did engage, if I recover to go myself, at my own charges. I am sorry I cannot enter into particulars. Mr Mitchell’s deposition is truth, only I am sorry he is so reserved as not to tell all, I affirm upon interrogatory examination, you would be surprised to find the time & alteration that would be given to the whole proceedings, he was my bosom friend, and knows the very bottom of my designs. I did nothing without his advice & consent, and even when I hesitated about anything, he would tell me, lay him in the Gapp—I took him to be a gentleman of Honr & probity and do still believe upon occasion he would do me justice.
As to the other Deposition, I am loth to say the Gent swore [Page 160—Page 150 in original] falsely it may be it was to the best of their knowledge. Prejudice caused them to see them in another (light) dress than they were designed, but as they swore several matters of fact most falsely, so I can procure twenty evidences to the contrary. I am not ignorant what was the design of these depositions, & I call God to witness my sincerity in serving you, & North Carolina that I did not deserve such unkind usage from thence. It is my comfort that my country has resented my service after another manner, & tho’ yr Honr had the benefit of them yet in a most solemn & hon1 manner, they returned me their thanks &c, & I hope by this time you will likewise have another opinion of me, and as I have done on yr acct. here all the friendly offices I could, you would be pleased to intercede in my behalf, with yr Assembly to do me Justice. If this misfortune had not befallen me, I should never trouble them, but this having disappointed all my projects, I am forced to become supplicant to you, & if I live to go to Great Britain I do not doubt so to represent you, that if the Lords proprietors do not find a more advantageous way of rewarding industry of serving their interests, that at least South Carolina may be offered you, besides my blood lost in South Carolina, & the misery I do still undergo for their sakes. I lost five horses that cost me £84. I disbursed about £50 at several publick works of which I have a voucher of £39. for Corefort, the rest being small sums, I disbursed for rum & other necessaries for the sick & wounded men to Capt. Drinkwater & others about £16; for this I have the voucher, & by an act of Assembly, I was to have 20s a day. I crossed Neuse River 28th day of January, and was wounded the 5th day of July, 3 days before I got into South Carolina Government.
——————– page 905 ——————–
I could have most of these demands paid me by the Treasury here, only I was willing the money should be employed in a second expedition, on condition the Government would address you to get me paid in North Carolina. I will not apologize for giving you this trouble because I hope to give you sufficient proofs of my real friendship, so that you may have no reason to repent of doing me a kindness; wishing you succession of health & prosperity I conclude
Your Honrs most affectionate
friend and faithful servant
Hat tip to Mavis for this document.