General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

John Turner


John Turner was born North Carolina. His exact birth date is unknown. All the information we have on him is from he pension of his wife and son.

Tuner’s pension starts off telling about him joining the North Carolina 1st Continental regiment in August 1777. His unit is marched first to Williamsburg VA and Richmond VA where his unit is inoculated against Small pox. Three percent (3%) of all Continental Soldiers died from allergic reactions to the inoculations.  The troops were then sailed to New Jersey to wait for the upcoming battle at Brandywine PA.

 On September 11, 1777, General Howe of the British army planned two separate attacks on the American line. Knyphausen, Hessian Commander would attack the center of the line while Cornwallis would attack on the Continental Right wing after out flanking the Continentals.

 The North Carolina line saw very little action at Brandywine. Most of the North Carolinians were part of the reserve at Birmingham house. It was here where the Virginians fought off the British with such valor forcing them to withdraw 5 times before taking the house and hill where it was located.

  Some of the North Carolina troops who were considered the best sharpshooters were sent to the center of the line at chads Ford where they met Knyphausen Forces. The British soon routed the American line forcing Wayne’s and Maxwell’s divisions to retreat and capturing 11 cannons.

 On October 4, 1777 Turner participated in the battle of Germantown PA. Here the North Carolina line saw heavy fighting. The North Carolina Brigade lost their commander, General Francis Nash who almost got his leg blown off during the battle after being hit with a canon ball.  The Americans were winning this battle until.  American Commander General Stephens ordered his men to fire upon the Americans line located in a deep fog. The Continentals were forced to withdraw.

 On December 19, 1777, Turner marched into Valley Forge with the rest of the North Carolina regiments. At Valley Forge, the North Carolina regiments suffered the most of any of the state regiments. They received less clothes and food than any of the other State regiments At Valley forge, 323 North Carolinians were placed in the infirmary due to various illnesses where 204 died.  250 men were deemed unfit for duty because their clothes had become like rags and they had no shoes.

 The most exciting event to happen at Valley Forge concerning the North Carolina regiment was when several North Carolinians tried to desert. One man tried to steal a horse.  This man was caught and almost flogged to death.

 On June 28, 1778, Turner and his North Carolina brigade became part of Lafayette brigade at the battle of Monmouth. The North Carolinians saw very little fighting here.

 On July 15, 1779, Turner and the north Carolinas saw action at the battle of Stony Point NY. Here the North Carolinians made a diversionary frontal attack on the garrison. The Americans won this battle decisively.

 After this battle the Turner and his North Carolina regiment was sent to several forts in the Hudson valley. In September 1779, several men from each of the North Carolina brigade were sent to participate in the battle of Savannah GA on September 16, 1779.

 The battle of savannah was the second bloodiest battle fought during the Revolutionary war Over 1100 Continentals was killed and 543 wounded. This battle could have been won if the Americans had not agreed to a truce the day before to see if the British would agree to surrender. During the truce, the British fortified the garrison making it almost impossible to capture. Also another British regiment arrived on the scene making defeat a certainty.

   What North Carolinians didn’t participate in the battle of Savannah were forced to march in 3 feet of snow on their way to Charleston. In April 1780 at Charleston, Turner participated in a 40 day siege in which the Americans were defeated. Over 5000 men were taken prisoner and then paroled if they agreed not to fight the British again.

 Turner would fight at the battle of Eutaw springs on September 8, 1781 this was last major battle and Bloodiest battle ever fought in South Carolina. After this battle Turner was sent to James Island Sc. James Island claims to be the location the last shots occurred between Tories and the Sc militia in November 1782. James Island would also be famous during the Civil war being where the Confederates fired from at Fort Sumter.

 In 1782, Turner moved to Stokes county NC where he married Mary Cloud. They had 6 children from this union. Turner later moved to Claiborne County where he died on October 16, 1825.

 The most famous and bloodiest family feud to occur in Bell county Kentucky was between descendents of Turner and the Sowders’ family that happened during the civil war. Over 27 individuals were killed during this family feud.



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