Regulators and the Blackened Face

I thoroughly enjoyed my days at NC Archives reading through state level petitions and court records from the opening days of our country. The time spent was not only about organizing my own understanding of history, there was also the raw pleasure in finding the occasional deposition or petition having all the elements of a good a novel. Some cases were deadly serious while others were beyond funny.

In 1771, General Hugh Waddell was heading north from Salisbury to Hillsborough to quell a rebellion of regulators. Intended as support for Waddell, a convoy of munitions from Charleston camped in now Cabarrus County was attacked during the night by locals who hid behind blackened faces. Known today as the “Cabarrus Black Boys,” I wonder if there were other such attacks or similar acts by Regulators in the southern piedmont of North Carolina?

A year prior to the attack on Waddell’s munitions, the Anson county surveyor named Robert Jarman was robbed as he headed east from the Peedee river. He too was attacked at night and by men with blackened faces. And just a year earlier than the robbery, regulators of Anson County signed a petition.

Robert Jarman provided a deposition of the attack to the Governor’s Council in 1770. Though it could have been all about a robbery, one line screams that the crime might be the doings of the Regulators. Can you pick it out from Robert Jarman’s deposition below? Warning: this is a graphic read!

North Carolina                                                                     December 10, 1770
Craven County

The deposition of Robert Jarman of Anson County in the Province aforesaid, Deputy, Surveyor, aged about thirty eight years, who being sworn upon the Holy Evangelists, deposeth and saith, that about two hours after sunset in the evening of the twenty ninth day of November last past, as this deponent was riding the road from Blewit’s Ferry on the Peedee River to Cole’s Bridge on Drowning Creek near an old diserted cabbin on a branch of Hitchcock’s Creek commonly called the Chalk Fork, he this deponent was robbed of five or six shillings in small pieces of silver, forty six shillings in Proclamation Money, and fifteen Portugal Pieces of Gold commonly called half Joe’s, in the following manner, to wit, As this deponent had passed the said branch about twenty or thirty yards from the ford thereof, he this deponent saw three men all armed with guns, rush suddenly out of the said cabbin and run towards this deponent, whereupon this deponent put forward and spurred on his horse with all his might and the said three men advancing toward the road aforesaid to meet this deponent, some of them cried out repeatedly, Damn your soul, stop, or we will blow your brains out, whereupon this deponent immediately attempted to take a pistol out of his pocket, but hearing at the same instant two of them cock their guns as they came within about six or seven yards from this deponent, he desisted from making any defense, and stopped his horse under the greatest shock and surprise, and thereupon one of the men immediately stopped, and presented his gun at this deponent, another of them seized this deponents horse by the bridle, and the third man seized hold of this deponent, pulling and shriving to get him off his horse, and at the same time cursing this deponent in the most shocking manner, and ordering him to deliver up his money, or they would instantly kill him, but he who held the deponents horse by the bridle, said damn him, leave off pulling him, and get his money, whereupon the others desisted in pulling this deponent, and began to search his pockets on the side he then stood, but finding no money there, he went round to the other side of this deponent, and took out of this deponent’s fob, about five or six shillings in small silver, and then took hold of this deponent’s saddle bags and began to search them, and from thence took out one parcel of this deponent’s proclamation money, and at the same time cursed this deponent, and said, I have got some of your money, and I’ll be damned if we don’t kill you if you don’t tell us where your Gold is, whereupon this deponent told him he had none, but the other replied, I know you have some, and damn you, we will kill you if you don’t give us all you have; yes damn him, said the other who held this deponents horse by the bridle, and we will have his cloaths too, I do insist out. No damn him said he that was searching this deponent, we will take nothing but his money, and finding another parcel, here, said he, I have got other bundle of his proc and we will have all he has got, or damn him we will kill him, and then immediately finding the fifteen half Joe’s, took them out of this deponents saddle bags and swearing by his Maker, said, Boys, we have got it, and seemed then to be contented, and began to return and put up into the saddle bags some of this deponents cloaths and things which had been taken out in the search, and takin up a bottle of rum belonging to this deponent, held it up between himself and the moon (which at this time shone very bright) and swore that if they did not take the bottle they would have the rum, and then drank to him who held this deponents horse by the bridle, and taking the bottle again, carried it to him who had stood with his gun presented at the distance aforesaid, and after drinking two drams a piece, the same person who had been searching this deponent, drinking to him that held this deponents horse by the bridle, said damn me boys, we have done it; No, said he that held this deponents horse, I want his cloaths too; No said he that searched this deponent, we have got what we wanted, and I’ll be damned if we will have any of his cloaths and then put the said bottle again into the deponents saddle bags, and then upon the said two persons who had seized hold of this deponent and his horse, left this deponent and went to the other person who had stood with his gun presented at a distance of about five or six yards from this deponent as aforesaid, and then all three of the said persons advanced about four or five step further from this deponent, and there stood talking together, whereupon this deponent pleaded with them not to leave him destitute of any money to ______________ his _____________, and in answer thereto, one of them said damn your blood, go off this instant or we will take everything you have, for I will be damned, continued he, if there shall ever go as much money again out of Anson to the damned sons of bitches below, as there has gone, if we can help it, and thereupon this deponent left them and proceeded as fast as he could to John Cole’s at the bridge on Drowning Creek aforesaid, then being in such concern, terror and confusion, that he scarce knew what course to take, And this deponent further saith that the said three men who robbed this deponent aforesaid are all unknown to this deponent, their faces being all blackened and disguised, and that those two who had seized him and his horse in the manner aforesaid, were smallish or rather under a middle size, and that he who stood off some distance with his gun presented at the time of the robbery committed as aforesaid, appeared to be a tall stout man, who never spoke during the whole action, to this deponents knowledge; that all three had in hunting shirts, and all wore their hair, the two former had their hair hid, the latter had his hair short and loose about his neck. And this deponent further saith that at the time when this deponent desired and intended to have lit out on his journey from home with company, his wife was in labour, and in such circumstances as humanity forbade him to leave her in, that that the day after she was brought to bed, he set out on his journey and rode late at night at the time he was robed as aforesaid, in order to overtake the company which were on the road before him, and further this deponent saith not.

Rob’ Jarman

Sworn the tenth day of December, 1770 before R. Cogdill

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