Chapter 20: Historically Low Military Pay

It wasn’t until I started researching the Nanney family that I considered the number of years our soldiers have received compensation for their service. Since my daughter endured a tour of Iraq, I am more aware of arduous military training, long boring hours spattered with moments of sheer terror for arguably few benefits. Our nation has grown strong because of these men and women, and I resent snide comments made from safe havens by those who fool themselves into thinking themselves intellectually superior.

Having expressed my humble opinion, I want to call attention to yesterday, Sunday, December 7. Seventy three years ago on Sunday, December 7, 1941, our shores were attacked at Pearl Harbor by a Japanese air force. Read about the “date that will live in infamy.” http://www.historyplace.com/speeches/fdr-infamy.htmbanner-wreath

I will also take time for a commercial for Wreaths Across America. Next Saturday on December 13, “25,000 volunteers will help place 230,000 wreaths on veterans’ graves” in Arlington cemetery. http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/

Now for today’s post, I share a deposition taken in 1832 that was taken from ninety-four year old Richard Ledbetter III so that he could receive well-deserved benefits for his prior military service:

“To the best of my recollection, I settled myself and my family in the year 1770 in Mumford Cove, Tryon County, now Rutherford County, North Carolina. About that time, we was entirely on the frontier and very thinly settled. We all had to take sides. I became a volunteer to guard the frontiers. I served under Captain Potts, Captain McDowell, and Captain McDaniel. The length of time I was out on those different posts I am not able to say, but my first tour was in pursuit of the Indians. Colonel McDowell commanded. My next service was under Colonel Hampton, but he turned his course down Broad River in pursuit of the British and Tories. We came in sight of them at Shiers Ferry. About or before we reached that place, we joined the main army under General Sumpter. We fired a few rifles across the river. I think I saw several fall. We shortly after engaged battle at Blackstock where General Sumpter was wounded. We returned to the mountains.

“Soon after our return, we was ordered out again. We was to meet at Colonel Hampton’s but before the groups had collected, the Indians broke into the settlement and killed two of my little daughters and a negrow (spelling by court reporter) about ten years of age and scalped them. My wife with a child at her breast (Richard IV born in 1780) made her escape. They was immediately pursued. Shortly after, I think in year 1780, I took the balance of my family and moved back to Virginia. I was immediately numbered and placed on the muster roll in Brunswick County and was marched in pursuit of the British to the point of fork on James River where we came up with them and had an engagement. We was there under the command of Colonel or General Lawson. We had to retreat but when we was reinforced, we followed after them to Little York.”

“I left that place a few days before the capture of Cornwallis and his Army and returned home. There are many circumstances that took place that I cannot recollect. I well know that I served my Country Faithfully, lost nearly all that I had and three of my family were killed by the Indians when I was in the service where I was called for the Cause of Liberty. I hereby relinquish my claim to a pension except for the present and declare my Name is not on the pension roll for any other state.”

Richard received $90.00, and an annual $30 until his death in 1841 in Hightower, Georgia. The information collected by local researcher Mary Glenn tells that he moved with his second wife Elizabeth (whom he married when he was 84), his son Johnson, and his daughter Martha Ward. In a wagon pulled by oxen. He was 99, looking for a new frontier. The story goes that they camped the first night a half mile from home. The second night was three miles down the road. He must have been a character.

Elizabeth Ledbetter returned to McDowell County, NC, in 1847 and lived with the Wards, her stepdaughter’s in-laws. She reapplied in 1853 for her husband’s $30 annual pension to be sent to her. I might mention here that the magistrate who signed this request was Benjamin Brackett of Brackett Town. (See Part 2: Settlement of Brackett Valley) Brackett Town is over a mountain from Montford Cove. But this was a smaller world back then because neighbors kept in touch.

For over 200 Years

For over 200 Years

In the 1700’s the colonies were still linked to Mother England by commerce and government, history and education, ideas of a “civilized society.” However, as experiences hardened the colonists, they felt more connected to other Americans than to people they could no longer see.

Perhaps the struggle peculiar to a new country, handled by a local community, bonded neighbors to each other. Therefore when Major Patrick Ferguson of the British Royalists ordered the mountain men to join up or be burned out, it was time to choose the future for family here over past alliances. Nevertheless for some it was hard. The Nanneys had sided with the King for generations. Although many of the Nanneys fought as patriots, I think John Wyatt Nanny’s son of Brunswick County, Thomas Nanney, must have supported the crown. His name was on the muster roll of the Queen’s Rangers in August of 1780. But he was never mentioned again. And he wasn’t in his father’s will five years later. (Notes by Stancill Nanney and Jack Nanney.)

Of course it wasn’t the first or last time that brothers fought each other on the battlefield, but it is still sad.

 

Copyright, 2014, Georgia Wilson

 

 

 

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