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Robert Pyland/Pylant during the Revolution
Posted by: Joy Q. Gallagher (ID *****6975) Date: November 05, 2005 at 15:10:08
  of 130

Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584 to 1851 by John Hill Wheeler [1806-1882], originally published in 1851, reprinted in 1964
Pages 274-275, Chapter LIV, Nash County

"...During the Revolution there was a Captain Beard, who spread terror through this County. This account of him, and that of his death, has been narrated to me by my venerable and worthy friend Michael Collins, Esquire, of Warren, now in the 73d year of his age, and may be relied on for its
correctness:
About 1778, Captain Beard, who was a brave and gallant soldier, but mistaken in his duty, attacked the house of James Drake, Esq., of Nash County, with a band of Tories. There was at the time, in the house, no one but Mr. Drake, his son Albritain, then about seventeen, and Benjamin Bridges, his half-brother; Nathaniel Nichols, Henry Massinger, and Robert Piland. Bridges and Nichols retreated. The rest prepared for defence. Albritain, who was one of a corps of light horse, and had been in active duty scouring the country for these very men, ran out with a loaded musket and fired. The Tories then surrounded the house, and ordered a surrender. They had several prisoners, tied, with them. Old Mr. James Drake seized a gun and advanced on the foe, but his gun missed fire; William Ross, a Tory, fired at him with a gun charged with buck shot. His aim missed the old man, but wounded both Massinger (cutting off a part of his nose) and Piland (shot in the abdomen). The Tories, headed by Beard, sword in hand, rushed into the house. Beard was met by young Albritain Drake, with a cutlass; they engaged; at the first blow young Drake's sword struck the joist above his head, and broke off at the hilt: he was knocked down. The old man then joined in the melee, with his gun clubbed; but was soon cut down by the sword of Beard, and was so severely wounded that "he was a gore of blood." Seeing her husband cut down, old Mrs. Drake rushed in, not with a weapon, but with a jug of old Nash, even to this day celebrated for its excellent flavor. Her entreaties and the more potent influences of the liquor, produced a parley. She plied them so liberally with the brandy, that peace was restored. Beard had been an aspirant for the hand of her daughter. During this time Captain Peter Goodwin with a troop of horse galloped up; Albritain Drake threw up his hhat and gave a loud halloo; Goodwin made a furious attack, and Beard and his men made a precipitate retreat. In his retreat, he was encountered by Bridges, who was near. Bridges's gun missed fire, and Beard used his sword, but was knocked down by Bridges, and he fell lifeless. Bridges thought he was killed, and came to the house and informed that he had killed Beard. They all went out to see his dead body, but Beard had recovered so as to sit up. He was then taken into custody. A negro man, Simon, who had a wife at Drake's, caught another one of his ban, named Porch. These were taken to Colonel Seawell, in Franklin county. They were tried by a Court-martial, and both were forthwith hung. Such was the end of Captain Beard...."


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