Robert Berry from Loyalist to Patriot
OCTOBER, 19 2007
Hillsborough, NC 1765 – Things had gone well for Robert by the time he built his plantation house. The French and Indian War was not a factor to Orange county settlers but other things were going on in Orange County that would have a major effect on the settler’s loyalty to the Crown. The Tax Collectors in Orange County were starting to cause some problems for the plantation owners and farmers. The tax rates were not extreme and the local farmers managed to pay them most of the time. The problem came when the Sheriff and other officials started getting greedy and only sending about half of what they were collecting to Newbern. Governor Tryon had some elaborate plans to build a new Palace in Newbern to be used as the governor’s mansion. Since the tax money was not coming in as it should the governor and the legislature decided to raise taxes. This did not set well with the hard working men in the back country. A lot of their income was in the form of goods and materials accumulated by bartering. Real hard cash was very scarce and paying the taxes that were already levied could be difficult. In 1768 there was a Regulator organization formed in Orange County. Their motive was to try to get a just and peaceful resolution to the dishonest practices of the local officials. Governor Tryon heard the delegation on several occasions when they went to Newbern and he promised each time to correct the abuse of power. Of course nothing was ever done. Robert must have discussed these problems with his neighbors Thomas Rountree, Richard Holeman, Archileous Wilson, Pattrick Rutherford, George Waggoner, Henry Waggoner, and his father in law Johhn Cate. Nobody knows for sure which men were involved in this movement because when Governor Tryon marched from Newbern and attacked the ill prepared Regulators in the Battle of Alamance with his well trained Army the Regulators did not have a chance. Many of the Regulators recognized the futility of their efforts. They simply melted away into the woods and went back home. Tryon captured a few unfortunate Settlers and hanged three at the Hillsborough Courthouse and had the others sign a pledge of allegiance to the crown and dissolved the Regulator movement. Many historians believe this was the first battle of the revolutionary War. This may not be true but I am sure that Robert Berry could see that the English rule was not going to be just and fair after battle of Alamance. and the treatment of the captured Regulators. After the way Governor Tryon handled their legitimate complaints I suspect Robert Berry felt little less need to support the Crown.
The events to follower demanded that each settler make up his mind which side of the war they would choose to support. On October 7th 1780 the Continental Army defeated the British Army decisively at Kings Mountain North Carolina. Robert Berry must have been well aware that it was only a mater of time before Cornwallis and his army would be marching to Hillsborough to take over that very important city. I know he was supporting the pariots because he sold some beef to the Continental Army. I am sure he had made up his mind well before the war actually came to to the local area. On march 15th 1781 the battle of Guilford Court House was fought and Cornwallis claimed the victory but the war was lost at that battle Officially the Battle at Yorktown brought the Revolutionary War to an end about six months later. He was kept on the run after Guilford Court House and was having supply problems. I think Robert Berry only fought in the Guilford Court House Battle. I think his son-in-law George Waggoner was severely wounded in that battle and died about a month later. Cornwallis had expected the Loyalist to swell his army as he penetrated the state from the south. This did not happen. The backwood Farmers and Planters had experienced real freedom and Independence for as much as 20 to 30 years. I think the English completely overlooked that fact and were completely suprised by the disloyal attitude of these settlers. We as Robert Berry descendants can be very proud of our ancestor who helped our nation get it’s start.