Thomas Jefferson Papers

David Campbell to Thomas Jefferson, 7 September 1811

From David Campbell

Abingdon Va 7th September 1811.

Dear Sir,

Without a personal acquaintance I beg leave to ask of you an answer to the following enquiries. In October 1780 a volunteer expedition was fitted out from the County of Washington under the command of Colonel William Campbell, which with extraordinary promptitude marched to the State of South Carolina and in conjunction with other militia from the Carolinas defeated and made prisoners, the forces under Colonel Furguson posted on the hights of Kings-mountain. The signal advantages which resulted to the American cause from this achievement are well known to you, and will always be remembered with the most lively emotions by the Southern people.

In a notice of the Council of May last which has appeared for some time in the different Newspapers I observe that it was the intention of Virginia to grant a bounty in Lands to her Officers and Soldiers on the Continental and State establishments; to those who were employed in the marine service of the Commonwealth and “to those meritorious persons to whom special donations of Land were intended to have been made.”

Your knowledge of the transactions of those times will enable you to say who those meritorious persons were. Was it not intended to include such as had rendered essential services to the country, and were not on the continental or State establishments or in the marine service; and were not the volunteers of Kings-mountain of this description?

I have been informed that Colonel Campbell for those extraordinary services received a military warrant of 5.000 acres, but no application has yet been made by the soldiers or any other of the Officers, some of whom acted a most distinguished part, particularly the Edmistons three of whom fell. The Virginia Legislature at their Session immediately afterwards acknowledged the services of the militia on this occasion, in the most grateful manner.

Excuse the liberty I have taken and beleive to be With the highest esteem Your Obt servt

David Campbell

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 18 Sept. 1811 and so recorded in SJL.

David Campbell (1779–1859) studied law as a young man but made his living in Abingdon as a merchant and investor in land. He held a commission in the United States Army from 1812 to 1814, rising from major to lieutenant colonel and serving in infantry regiments on the Canadian frontier. Campbell sat in the Senate of Virginia, 1820–24, and then succeeded his father as clerk of Washington County. Initially a Jeffersonian, he eventually migrated from the Democratic to the Whig Party. The Virginia legislature elected Campbell a major general of militia in 1834 and governor in 1837. Following his three-year term, he returned to his Montcalm estate near Abingdon (DVB description begins John T. Kneebone and others, eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography, 1998– , 3 vols. description ends ; Heitman, U.S. Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1903, 2 vols. description ends , 277; Leonard, General Assembly description begins Cynthia Miller Leonard, comp., The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619–January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members, 1978 description ends , 306, 311, 316, 321; Daily Richmond Enquirer, 24 Mar. 1859).

On 23 May 1811 the Virginia council of State ordered that in the interest of determining “the amount of the unsatisfied claims for land” dating from the Revolutionary War, “all persons having such claims are required to present them to the executive of this state on or before the 20th day of November next, authenticated by such evidence as the law now requires” (Richmond Enquirer, 31 May 1811). The edmistons: Ensign Andrew Edmondson and Lieutenant Robert Edmondson Sr. were killed and Lieutenant Robert Edmondson Jr. and Major William Edmondson were wounded on 7 Oct. 1780 at the Battle of Kings Mountain (Heitman, Continental Army description begins Francis B. Heitman, comp., Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783, rev. ed., 1914 description ends , 212). On 10 and 15 Nov. 1780 the lower and upper houses of the virginia legislature separately voted their unanimous thanks to “colonel William Campbell, of the county of Washington, and the officers and soldiers of the militia under his command” for their recent victory over “a party of the enemy commanded by major Ferguson, consisting of about eleven hundred and five men (British and Tories) strongly posted on King’s Mountain” (Philadelphia Pennsylvania Packet or the General Advertiser, 30 Dec. 1780).

Index Entries

  • American Revolution; and Va. land warrants search
  • Campbell, David (of Virginia); and Va. land warrants search
  • Campbell, David (of Virginia); identified search
  • Campbell, David (of Virginia); letters from search
  • Campbell, William; and Va. land warrants search
  • Continental Congress, U.S.; and Va. land warrants search
  • Edmondson, Andrew; at Battle of Kings Mountain search
  • Edmondson, Robert, Jr.; at Battle of Kings Mountain search
  • Edmondson, Robert, Sr.; at Battle of Kings Mountain search
  • Edmondson, William; at Battle of Kings Mountain search
  • Ferguson, Patrick; at Battle of Kings Mountain search
  • Kings Mountain, Battle of; D. Campbell on search
  • Virginia; Council of State search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; land claims of veterans from search