On the southern edge of North Carolina stands the little city of Charlotte. The people of this section were full of the love of liberty. In less than one month after the Battle of Lexington they began to talk in favor of declaring independence from England. Five years afterwards, when Lord Cornwallis, the commander-in-chief of the British during the Revolution, came to Charlotte with his army, he found the people so eager to fight for their freedom, that he always called this little town the hornets’ nest of the rebellion.
Early inhale fall of 1780 these hornets were buzzing. The patriots had been defeated in the Battle of Camden. Lord Cornwallis now felt sure of success in North Carolina, and was marching toward the Old North State, with the intention of making his first stop at Charlotte.
The British soldiers robbed the patriots of their sheep and cattle, burned their houses and their crops, stole their horses, and drove their women and children into the woods.
“I wil protect your property and pay you for everything my army need,” declared Lord Cornwallis, “but you must take the oath of allegiance to King George.”
“Never!” was the determined answer of the bold North Carolina patriots. “We have pledged our lives, our fortunes, and our honor to the cause of freedom, and we will not break our oaths. We will fight you to the bitter end.”
And fight they did, men, women, an children, and with a will. They made things so lively for the redcoats that they dreaded to be sent into the country for supplies. No matter if a whole regiment went out, it was certain to lose some of its men before it got back to Charlotte. From behind trees, bushes, barns, and fences the deal fire of the patriots thinned the ranks of the hated British.
One morning, while Cornwallis and his army were at Charlotte, a boy named John Clarke was at work in the field on his father’s farm, about seven miles from town. The boy’s father and brother were in the patriot army. John was left at home to take care of his mother and sisters.
He suddenly heard a great clatter down the road. he looked up and saw British soldiers coming into sight, round the bend in the road. He ran into the house with a shout.
“The redcoats are here. The whole army is coming up the road!”
In a few moments the British were riding up the lane.
Now John Clarke’s mother had already had experience with British officers an knew what they were. She sent the girls upstairs and seated herself on the piazza with John, to await the coming of the soldiers.
The leader of the redcoats halted his men near the house, leaped from his horse, and came up to the piazza.
“We are in need of supplies, and must search this place.”
“As you please,” replied Mrs Clarke, quietly. “You have already stolen everything, and you will find nothing.”
The soldiers now began to search the house. Some went to the barn. Others ransacked the shed. They could not find much.
“I say, boy,” growled the British leader, returning to the piazza, “we can’t find anything here; you must have hidden something somewhere.”
“Of course,” grinned John. “We have one poor cow left; but you can’t get her for she’s out in the woods, over a mile away.”
The officer was angry.
“One cow isn’t much, but it’s better than nothing. Take one of the horses and drive her in; and be quick about it, you young rebel!”
John leaped on one of the horses, which had been tied to the rail fence. Some of the men tried to stop him.
“That’s all right!” shouted the British captain; “he’s going on a errand for me.”
Trotting his horse be a row of beehives, John leaned over and upset several of them. He then struck is horse a sharp blow with a switch and away went horse and rider out of the lane and into the road. They were soon lost to sight in the woods.
The yard was now worse then a hornets’ nest. The angry bees swarmed out of the hives till the air seemed full of them. The horse, maddened by the sting of the bees, began to plunge and kick. With oaths the redcoats ran here and there to escape. It was of no use. The bees made it so hot for them that they went heat-skelter down the road.
John had looked back as he rode out of the lane. It was a sight that he never forgot. As soon as he was in the shelter of the woods he jumped off the horse and lay of the ground and laughed, while the British troopers went riding pell-mell past.
The road was soon clear of the redcoats, and John went back to the house to tell his mother and sisters.
“It was a funny sight, “ he said. “You never saw anything like it. Some of those chaps had their eyes shut tight. Some of their noses looked like powder horns. And they swore like troopers. I think I had better write General Washington about it; it is better than powder and balls.”
This is a story I found in:
Little Story Book About Big American Heroes
Darlene P. Stoker and B. Elaine Clegg
Reprinted from The American History Story book
by Albert F. Blaisdell and Francis K. Ball 1917
W. Kay Clegg
Todd K. Clegg
copyright 1998 by
Idaho Falls, Idaho
The preface is written by Albert F. Baisdell and Francis K. Ball may, 1911