BREVARD FAMILY in the American Revolution History Facts
(Condensed from Wheeler's "Historical Sketches.")
The Brevard family acted a very conspicuous part during our Revolutionary war. The first one of the name of whom anything is known was a Huguenot who fled from France on the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685, and settled among the Scotch-Irish in the northern part of Ireland. He there formed the acquaintance of a family of McKnitts, and with them set sail for the American shores. One of this family was a young and blooming lassie, "very fair to look upon." Brevard and herself soon discovered in each other kindred spirits, and a mutual attachment sprung up between them. They joined their fortunes, determined to share the hardships and trials incident to a settlement in a new country, then filled with wild beasts and savages. They settled on Elk river, in Maryland. The issue of this marriage were five sons and one daughter; John, Robert, Zebulon, Benjamin, Adam, and Elizabeth. The three elder brothers, with their sister and her husband, came to North Carolina between 1740 and 1750. The three brothers were all Whigs during the American Revolution. John Brevard, whose family is the immediate subject of this sketch, married a sister of Dr. Alexander McWhorter, a distinguished Presbyterian minister from New Jersey, who had for a time the control of Queen's Museum in Charlotte. Soon after his marriage, Brevard also emigrated to North Carolina, and settled about two miles from Center Church, in Iredell county. Dr. McWhorter was a very zealous Whig, and it is said the British were anxious to seize him on account of his independent addresses, both in and out of the pulpit. But they failed in their endeavors, and, after the invasion of Charlotte by Cornwallis in 1780, he returned to the North.
At the commencement of the Revolutionary war, John Brevard, then an old and infirm man, had eight sons and four daughters, Mary, Ephraim, John, Hugh, Adam, Alexander, Robert, Benjamin, Nancy, Joseph, Jane and Rebecca. He was a well known and influential Whig, and early instilled his patriotic principles into the minds of his children. When the British army under Cornwallis passed near his residence a squad of soldiers went to his house and burned every building on the premises to the ground. No one was at home at the time except his wife, then quite old and infirm, the daughters having been sent to a neighboring house across a swamp to preserve them from any indignities that might be offered to them by a base soldiery. When the soldiers came up a self-authorized officer drew a paper from his pocket, and after looking at it for a moment said, "these houses must be burned." They were accordingly set on fire. Mrs. Brevard attempted to save some articles of furniture from the flames, but the soldiers would throw them back as fast as she could take them out Everything in the house was consumed. The reason assigned by the soldiery for this incendiary act was she then had "eight sons in the rebel army."
Mary, the eldest daughter of John Brevard, married Gen. Davidson who was killed at Cowan's Ford on the Catawba river.
Nancy married John Davidson. They were both killed by the Indians at the head of the Catawba river. Jane married Ephraim, a brother of John Davidson. Though very young, he was sent by Gen. Davidson, on the night before the skirmish at Cowan's Ford, with an express to Col, Morgan, warning him of the approach of the British forces.
Rebecca married a Jones and moved to Tennessee.
Ephraim Brevard, the eldest son, married a daughter of Col. Thomas Polk. After a course of preparatory studies he went to Princeton College. Having graduated, he pursued a course of medical studies and settled as a physician in Charlotte. Being highly educated, and possessed of a superior mind, and agreeable manner, he exerted a commanding influence over the youthful patriots of that day. In the language of Dr. Foote, "he thought clearly; felt deeply; wrote well; resisted bravely, and died a martyr to that liberty none loved better, and few understood so well." (For further particulars respecting Dr. Brevard, see Sketches of the Signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration.)
_John Brevard, Jr._, served in the Continental Army with the commission of Lieutenant, displaying, on all occasions, unflinching bravery and a warm devotion to the cause of American freedom.
_Hugh Brevard_, with several brothers, was at the battle at Ramsour's Mill. Early in the war he was appointed a Colonel of the militia, and was present at the defeat of General Ashe at Brier Creek. He settled in Burke County, and was elected a member of the Legislature in 1780 and 1781, was held in high esteem by his fellow citizens, and died about the close of the war.
_Adam Brevard_ first served one year in the Northern Army under General Washington. He then came South, and was present at the battle of Ramsour's Mill. He there had a button shot from his pantaloons, but escaped unharmed. He was a blacksmith by trade, and, after the war followed this occupation for a considerable length of time. Being fond of reading he studied law in his shop, when not much pressed with business, and found a greater delight in the law-telling _strokes_ of a Blackstone than in the hard-ringing strokes of a blacksmith's hammer. He finally abandoned his trade and engaged in the practice of the law, in which he was successful. He was a man of strong intellect, sound judgment, and keen observation. He wrote a piece called the "Mecklenburg Censor," abounding with sarcastic wit and well-timed humor, making him truly the "learned blacksmith" of Mecklenburg county.
_Alexander Brevard_ first joined the army as a cadet. He then received the commission of Lieutenant, and soon afterward that of Captain in the Continental Army. He was engaged in the battles of White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, Brandywine, Monmouth, and Germanton, and remained in the Northern Army under General Washington until some time in the year 1779, when, his health failing, he was sent into the country. After a short absence he reported himself for service to Gen. Washington. This illustrious and humane commander, seeing his slender figure and delicate appearance, remarked that he was unfit for hard service, and enquired of him where his parents lived. The reply was, in North Carolina. Gen. Washington then advised him to return home. With this advice he complied, and his health, in the meantime, having improved in the genial climate of Western North Carolina, he immediately joined the Southern Army under General Gates. Being a Captain in the regular service, and removed from his command, he was appointed quartermaster, and acted as such at the battle of Camden. After the defeat of Gen. Gates, the Southern Army was placed under the command of Gen. Greene. Alexander Brevard was with this gallant commander in all his battles; so that, with little interruption, he was in active service _from the beginning to the end of the war_. He thought his hardest fighting was at the Eutaw Springs. He was there in command of his company, and in the hottest part of the fight, losing eighteen of his brave men. At one time he and his company were in a very critical situation. A division of the British army came very unexpectedly upon their rear while they were closely engaged in front; but, just at that moment, Col. Washington, perceiving their imminent danger, made an impetuous charge with his cavalry upon this division of the enemy. A portion of his men broke through, and formed again with the intention of renewing the charge. This was prevented by the retreat of the British into a position where it was impossible for the cavalry to pursue them.
Colonel Washington was unhorsed and made a prisoner, but succeeded with his brave men in preventing the meditated attack in the rear. Brevard had not observed this division of the enemy, and the first thing he saw was the flying caps and tumbling horses of the cavalry as they made their dashing charge upon them. This was the last important battle in which Capt. Brevard was engaged, fought on the 8th of September, 1781, and near the close of the war. On all occasions he maintained an unflagging zeal and promptitude of action in achieving the independence of his country, and evincing a persistent bravery unsurpassed in the annals of the American Revolution.
After the war Captain Brevard married Rebecca, a daughter of Major John Davidson, one of the signers of the Mecklenburg Declaration. Major Davidson suggested to himself and General Joseph Graham, another son-in-law, the propriety of entering into the manufacture of iron. They readily approved of the suggestion and went over into Lincoln county. There they found General Peter Forney in possession of a valuable iron ore bank. With him they formed a copartnership and erected Vesuvius Furnace on the public road from Beattie's Ford to Lincolnton--at present known as Smith's Furnace. After operating for a time altogether, Forney withdrew. Davidson and Brevard then left Graham in the management of Vesuvius Furnace, and built Mount Tirzah Forge, now known as Brevard's Forge. The sons-in-law shortly afterward bought out Davidson, and finally they dissolved. Brevard then built a furnace on Leeper's Creek, above Mount Tirzah Forge, and continued in the iron business until his death.
Captain Brevard, being of a retiring disposition, never sought political favor, but preferred to discharge his obligations to his country rather by obeying than by making her laws. His manners were frank and candid, and the more intimately he was known the better was he beloved. The dishonest met his searching eye with dread, but the industrious and the honest ever found in him a kind adviser and beneficent assistant. Long will he be remembered as a pure man, a faithful friend, and an upright citizen, conscientious in the discharge of all his obligations and in the performance of all his duties. He was for many years, a worthy elder in the Presbyterian Church, and died, as he had lived, a true Christian, and with humble resignation, on the 1st of November, 1829, in the seventy-fifth year of his age. His mortal remains repose in a private cemetery, selected by General Graham and himself as a family burying ground, and near which has lately been built the church of Macpelah. He left seven children--Ephraim, Franklin, Harriet, Robert, Joseph, Theodore and Mary. Franklin and Joseph represented, at different times, the county of Lincoln in the State Legislature.
_Joseph Brevard_, the youngest son of John Brevard, Sen., at the youthful age of seventeen, held the commission of Lieutenant in the Continental army. His brother Alexander said he was at that time quite small and delicate, and that he always pitied him when it was his turn to mount guard. General ----, who was in command at Philadelphia, discovering that he wrote a pretty hand, appointed him his private secretary. In this position he remained until he received the commission of Lieutenant in the Southern army, which he held until the close of the war. After the war he studied law, and settled in Camden, S.C., where he took a high stand both as a lawyer and a citizen. After filling several offices of public trust, he was elected one of the Judges, which position he occupied with distinguished honor.
After a few years he resigned his Judgeship, and was twice elected to Congress from his district. He made a Digest of the Statute Laws of South Carolina, and also left one or two volumes of cases reported by himself. These books, particularly the latter, are still referred to as good legal authority. He died in Camden, and has left a name cherished and honored by all those who remember his numerous virtues.
Such is a brief and imperfect sketch of that family whose name is prefixed. Many events, of thrilling interest, connected with their revolutionary services, have, no doubt, sunk into oblivion; but enough has been presented to stimulate the rising generation to imitate their heroic example and admire their unfaltering devotion to the cause of American freedom