“A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial,” North Carolina, 1782

The Revolutionary War was a civil war, too, especially in the upcountry of North and South Carolina. In 1782, the North Carolina legislature prepared “A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial.” Among the names of Loyalists branded as traitors is one with Logan ties, Moses Moore (“Moor” in the document), and his son, Benj. Moore (“Moor”).

Despite being one of the signers of the Tryon Resolves in Tryon County, North Carolina, in 1775, Moses Moore ultimately threw in his lot with King and country. In his mind, of course, he was a patriot.

His son, John Moore, was a Loyalist (Tory) leader at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill.

A daughter, Sarah Moore, married Drury Logan. Another daughter, Hester, married Joshua Roberts. Both Drury Logan and Joshua Roberts chose the other side in the Revolution: the Patriot (Whig) side. Much of the Drury Logan profile in Logan Connections consists of his and Joshua Roberts’ efforts (as well as Joseph Lawrence who married Moses Moore’s other daughter, Ann) to work and litigate to protect their father-in-law’s land and other assets from confiscation. This was no doubt a sometimes unpopular path to tread, but Logan and Roberts’ bona fides as Patriots made their efforts acceptable to some at least, but most importantly, acceptable in the eyes of the law.

Benj. Moore, the other “Moor” named in the bill as a traitor, was Moses Moore’s son. We don’t know much about him, but he was said to be dead by 1785.

The Moores were two of the 36 men charged with Revolutionary War treason in Rutherford County, North Carolina, alone.

The Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War, also ended confiscation of Loyalist land and property. At that point, the North Carolina legislature passed “An Act of Pardon and Oblivion.”

Moses Moore ended up a refugee in Spanish West Florida, a haven for Loyalists originally engineered by the British King in what was then British West Florida.

Among the other “traitors” singled out from Rutherford County, North Carolina, who have a connection, although tangential, with some of our Logans are the Bickerstaff or Biggerstaff family. The Biggerstaffs, like the four Logan brothers, William, Joseph, John, and Thomas, were a family with split loyalties who fought at the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780. The “Bickerstaffs” named in “A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial” in 1782 were Samuel, Aaron, and Benjamin. Aaron Biggerstaff, a Tory, fought at Kings Mountain. He was said to be mortally wounded, yet his name is on the list of “traitors.” Benjamin Biggerstaff was a Whig / Patriot, by many accounts, yet family tradition has him switching sides during the war as many did, depending on the fortunes of war and their and their families’ best interest. I believe Samuel Biggerstaff was the father — and a Tory.

In a further example of tangled loyalties, John Moore, Tory commander at Ramsour’s Mill and Moses Moore’s son, was a cousin of the Biggerstaffs.

When the Patriots left Kings Mountain after their stunning victory, Loyalist prisoners in tow, they stopped at the Biggerstaff plantation for a drumhead trial of alleged traitors captured at the battle. The selection of the Biggerstaff location was probably not coincidental. Several Loyalists were hanged there before the summary executions were stopped. It’s possible that some or all of the Logan brothers, except Thomas left wounded on the battlefield, witnessed these hangings.

Our thanks to Joe Logan and Dr. A.B. Pruitt for background sources and information.

Sources: Abstracts of Sales of Confiscated Loyalists Land and Property in North Carolina, Dr. A.B. Pruitt, 1989; “A Bill to Bring Traitors to Trial, 1782,” Grace W. Turner, The North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal, Vol. XXVIII, No. 4, Nov. 2002, pages 420-426, researched by Joe Logan.

 

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