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A veteran’s remembrance from the first US war

  • Author: Barbara Henrichs
    | Opinion
    , William Norris III
    | Opinion
  • Updated: November 10, 2018
  • Published November 10, 2018

The setting sun lights the American flag at the Anchorage Veteran’s Memorial on the Park Strip in Anchorage, Alaska on Sunday Aug. 27, 2017. (Bob Hallinen / ADN)

With Veterans Day upon us, I would like to share with the ADN's readers this account from a veteran of the Revolutionary War.

In 1830, Congress passed a bill granting a pension to any veteran of that war, requiring only that he appear before a public official and swear an affidavit. William Norris was one of them. His words follow this letter.

William Norris was my many-times-great-grandfather. He was born in Virginia in 1760. He moved to Ohio in 1808, where he died in 1833. I don't know if he ever got his pension.

Barbara Henrichs

Affidavit of William Norris III as to war services

I, William Norris, of the county of Coshocton, in the state of Ohio, do hereby declare that I enlisted in the armies of the United States in the Revolutionary War, in the Virginia Line, at Winchester on the first day of October, A.D. 1780, under Captain Oldham. After receiving training at Winchester, we marched to Charlotte, where we joined Col. Campbell's regiment under Gen. Greene.

Now, we marched to attack (British Gen.) Cornwallis at Guilford Court House, where, after a severe engagement, we retreated; in a few days, however, we attacked him again, and drove him from that part of the country. We thence marched to Camden, where we had a general engagement with Lord Rawdon, in which the British gained the field. Then we marched to Fort Ninety-Six and besieged it for about three weeks. We attacked it, and after a day's hard fighting, we had to retreat because of the enemy getting a reinforcement coming on our rear.

A few days after this, we followed the enemy to Eutaw Springs, where we had another general engagement; and were victorious, taking upward of 400 prisoners. Here, I was severely wounded by getting one of my legs shivered to pieces, which disables me to this day. In the evening, when my stocking was cut off my wounded leg, three pieces of bone stuck to it. Also in this battle, my colonel and captain were wounded. The battle had begun about 8 o'clock a.m. on the 8th of September, 1781.

After I was wounded, I was taken off the ground and carried about 10 or 12 miles to a church, where I was laid under the green trees for the whole night. It was raining. The next morning, I was carried into the house, where I lay three days and three nights without anything to eat, and not even having my wounds dressed. I was thence carried to a general hospital at Charlotte. The morning after I was carried there, five doctors came in and wanted to cut my leg off, which I did not agree to, because I had seen too many have their legs cut off, and die afterward. I lay in the hospital at Charlotte until the middle of February, when I was taken to the general hospital at Camden. Every day, the doctors were pulling out pieces of bone from my wound, until it was the middle of March before they had got the last piece out. It was more than three years before the wound fully healed.

I remained at Camden until the third day of June, when I started for home in a wagon via Charlotte, where I got into another wagon which brought me within 100 miles of home; which distance I walked on my crutches, arriving home on the 26th of June. I got my discharge when I lay at the hospital at Charlotte, from Captain DeWitt, who took command of our company after our officers were killed.
William Morris
Dec. 7, 1830

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