General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

John Avery

John Avery, A Revolutionary war soldier who fought at Great Bridge VA,
was born on march 5, 1752 in Perquimans County NC. In November 1775,
Avery Joined the NC Militia in Perquimans county. In December, 1775,
Avery joined a unit under the command of Col. Vail consisting of 250
men. Col. Vail was soon ordered to Norfolk VA to help protect the Great
Avery , and the rest of Vail's NC militia arrived in Norfolk on December
9, 1775 ,  just before the battle started . Avery took his position
behind a redoubt near the Great Bridge under the command of Lt.
Travis of the VA militia. Avery saw the British marching towards the
redoubt. The British line consisted of 230 loyalist troops and 60
British grenadiers under the command of Captain Fordyce. The Patriots
were ordered to wait until the British were within 50 yards of the
redoubt before they fired.
The British started a bayonet charge running as fast as they could.
When  they reached the 50 foot mark, the patriots began to fire.
Captain Fordyce was shot 18 times before he fell over dead with in just
a few feet of the redoubt. British cannons located on the bridge started
firing , but had with little effect on  the battle. The Battle of Great
Bridge lasted 30 minutes. At the end of the battle, 102 British soldiers
lay dead or wounded, which included 3 British officers and 11 British
      After the battle, the patriots were able to capture Norfolk on
December 14, 1775, and force Lord Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia
to leave Virginia. On January 1, 1776, 4 British warships  fired upon
the city of Norfolk, and sent a British marine expedition ashore to set
fire to the city. The destruction of Norfolk was an incredibly stupid
strategic mistake made by Lord Dunmore. In firing on Norfolk, Dunmore
had destroyed the most loyal British port and community in all the
British colonies in North America. In London, during a session of
Parliament, Lord Richmond declared that the British attack on Norfolk
was done in a rage over the British defeat at Great Bridge , and that
Lord Dunmore was no military strategist.
    Avery quit the military life for awhile, but joined back again in
1781. Avery was transferred to protect the coastal defenses at Currituck
Banks located on the Outer banks region of North Carolina. 
At Currituck there were no major fortifications to speak of, just a
small fort made of sand and driftwood. In 1782, The British defeated the
Nc Militia at Taylor creek on Currituck Island. Within a few days the
British occupied Beaufort Sc, and stayed there until November 1782, when
the last British soldier left Charleston harbor.
       After the war, Avery moved to Chowan County NC. Chowan County
had been the site of the Edenton Tea Party, often nicknamed the Boston
Tea party of the South. In October , 1774,  at Edenton NC, 51 women sent
a signed letter to the King Of England stating they would drink no more
tea until the tax was lifted off of the tea being shipped to NC. Avery
died on October 13, 1836, and was buried in Chowan county.
During the civil war, Chowan county was the site of one of the greatest
Confederate Naval victories when the CSA ironclad Abermarle sank several
Union Ironclads.
     John Avery , a great patriot at the battle of Great Bridge had
helped end the Tory influence in southeast VA which gave the
Continentals a firm hold on Virginia until the end of the war.

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