Sunday, February 27, 2011

Revolutionary War

On Sunday, February 20, 2011, I mentioned the role Ocracoke Inlet played during the Revolutionary War. A reader asked about Ocracoke islanders who may have participated in the efforts to keep the inlet open for providing supplies to the Continental Army.

Here are a few tidbits from "The Outer Banks of North Carolina during the Revolutionary War" by Norman C Delaney, published in The North Carolina Historical Review, Volume XXXVI, January, 1959, Number 1.

  • In 1776, in order to prevent armed British vessels from getting fresh provisions, the North Carolina Provincial Congress established independent military companies to be stationed along the seacoast. The Ocracoke Company's officers were: James Anderson, Captain; Benjamin Bonner, First Lieutenant; James Wahob, Second Lieutenant; John Brag, Ensign; and John Cooper, Commissary. [None of these names appears in the first official US census of Ocracoke Island in 1790. However, Bonner is an eastern North Carolina surname...and Wahab and Bragg are early Ocracoke surnames.]
  • In 1777 Captain Anderson resigned, and John Williams obtained the position. This may have been the John Williams who purchased one half of Ocracoke from William Howard in September, 1759. Henry Toomer was appointed Commisary.
  • In September of 1777 the Ocracoke Company was disbanded for inability to keep the company in supplies and victuals.
  • Obtaining provisions on the isolated Outer Banks was always an issue. In late November, 1777 the Legislature "received a petition from Captain John Sheppard of the scow 'Diamond,' lately stranded on the Bar. Sheppard accused 'sundry persons' from Ocracoke of having stolen the greater part of his cargo."
  • In January, 1778 Royal Governor Josiah Martin wrote that "the contemptible Port of Ocracock...has become a great Channel of supply to the Rebels while the more considerable Ports of the Continent have been watched by the King's Ships."
  • "On November 10, 1779, Governor Caswell was empowered to establish a company of militia, consisting of not more than twenty-five inhabitants of Ocracoke, for duty at the Inlet." Adam Gaskel was named as Captain. The Colonial Council at Kinston, NC, "praised Gaskel's Company for bavery in '...attacking and taking a number of armed boats with their crews....'"[Gaskill is a traditional island surname, but does not appear in the Ocracoke census until 1800.]
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of a 1911 wedding on Portsmouth Island. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Interesting-as always-thanks. This is my third attempt to post a comment.

  2. Anonymous10:13 AM

    I've always been curious about where ships would offload their cargo after entering Ocracoke Inlet. Do you know what the major ports were back in those days?

  3. Check back here later for an answer about colonial NC ports. I'm doing some research -- want to be sure I give accurate information.