Sunday, July 12, 2015

Abraham Forney's 13 August 1844 Affidavit Mentioning Robert Ewart / Cornwallis's Ravaging of Jacob Forney's Plantation

This affidavit (here from the Raleigh Weekly Register of 25 October 1844) was made to refute a slanderous accusation about the Patriot Major John Davidson. Abraham Forney was himself a Patriot, brother of General Peter Forney, uncle of the historian Cyrus Hunter and uncle also of William Johnston, son of Col. James Johnston and Jane Ewart Johnston. It is notable for descendants of the Committee of Safety man and King's Mountain man Robert Ewart because it casually mentions the location of his house relative to Jacob Forney's and John Davidson's and casually refers to him as a good Whig who frequently consulted with Jacob Forney on the Whig cause. So much of what we know comes in glimpses like this, offhand comments when the focus is elsewhere.  Cornwallis stripped Jacob Forney's farm while the Forneys were quartered in the basement. See 281 in Barefoot's TOURING NORTH CAROLINA'S REVOLUTIONARY WAR SITES, quoted below.

The date cut off is August 13, 1844.
Barefoot: "For three days and four nights, the massive British army camped at Jacob Forney's plantation. Stretching for more than a mile, the encampment extended to the plantation of Peter Forney, located northwest of Ingleside at that time. The British commander took up residence on the upper floor of Jacob Forney's cabin, while his reluctant hosts were sequestered in the basement
During their stay, the British soldiers slaughtered and ate Forney's complete stock of cattle, swine, sheep, geese, and chickens and consumed his grain and brandy. Upon being informed by local Tories that Forney had a large treasure of gold, silver, and jewelry hidden on the premises, the Redcoats scoured the entire estate until they found the aged couple's lifetime savings.
The discovery and plunder of the Forney treasure almost cost Cornwallis his life. Jacob had somehow maintained his composure while the enemy troops killed his animals and ate his food. However, when he learned that he had been robbed, Forney grabbed his gun and rushed up the basement steps to kill Cornwallis. His wife interceded and stopped him before a showdown took place. 
At two o'clock in the morning on February 1, Cornwallis put his army on the march toward the Catawba, and Jacob Forney was left with a devastated plantation. Historian Cyrus L. Hunter, himself the son of a Revolutionary War hero, Dr. Humphrey Hunter, noted that "few persons during the war suffered heaver losses than Jacob Forney."

[Cyrus Hunter, the author of SKETCHES OF WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA, Barefoot does not say, was a nephew of Abraham Forney's, husband of a daughter of Peter Forney; William Johnston, Robert Ewart's grandson, was the husband of another daughter of Peter Forney.]

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