“a General Clamor arose among the common soldiery”

Having declared independence in 1776, the Continental Congress had to raise a national army, in addition to the state militias, to fight for that independence. Many men volunteered fueled by a rush of patriotism. To continue to attract volunteers Congress promised them pay, food, clothing, and land after 84 months of service. But since Congress was a creature of the states it lacked the power to compel them to honor these commitments. There was profiteering, as is common in war, and supplies and equipment, when provided, were often substandard. Worst of all, failure to pay soldiers in a timely fashion meant hardships for their families to whom they had been sending money.

In 1779, soldiers of the 2nd North Carolina Continental Line, unpaid for several months, malnourished, and ill-equipped, led by Sergeant Samuel Glover, refused an order to march south to defend Charleston. Despite the fact that their complaint was against the civilian authority which had defaulted on its promises, their action was a violation of military regulations, technically mutiny. As an example to the other soldiers, Glover was executed on February 23, 1780. His wife Ann applied to the General Assembly of North Carolina for public assistance for herself and her two children.

State of North Carolina
To the Honorable the General Assembly of the said State now sitting.
The Humble Memorial of Ann Glover, widow of Samuel Glover . . . Humbly Sheweth, That your Petitioner’s late Husband well and faithfully discharged his Duty as a Soldier and Friend to the Cause of American freedom and Independence, & marched to the Northward under the Command of Col. Robert Howe, who, if he was here, would bear honest and honorable Testimony that your Memorialist’s deceased Husband was deemed by him and every other officer in that Battalion a good soldier, and never was accused of being intentionally Guilty of a breach of the Laws, Martial or Civil. Your Petitioner begs leave to inform your Honors that her late husband continued in the service of the United States of America upwards of three years, and then returned, by orders of his Commanding officers, to the Southward, at which time he had above twelve month’s pay due for his services as a soldier, and which he ought to have received, and would have applyed for the sole support of himself, his wife, your Petitioner, and two helpless orphan Children. That many of the poor soldiers then on their March . . . possessed of the same attachment & affection to their Families as those in Command, but willing to endure all the dangers and Hardships of war, began their March for the Defence of the State of South Carolina, could they have obtained their promised but small allowance dearly earned for the support of their distressed families in their absence; but as they were sure of suffering for want of that subsistance which at that time & unjustly was cruelly withheld from them, a General Clamor arose among the common soldiery, and they called for their stipend allowed by Congress, but it was not given them, altho’ their just due. Give your poor Petitioner leave to apologize for her unhappy Husband’s conduct & in behalf of her helpless self, as well as in Favour of his poor Children on this occasion, and ask you what must the Feeling of the Man be who fought at Brandywine, at Germantown, & at Stony Point & did his duty, and when on another March in defence of his Country, with Poverty staring him full in the face, he was denied his Pay? His Brother soldiers, incensed by the same Injuries and had gone through the same services, & would have again bled with him for his Country whenever called forth in the service, looked up to him as an older Soldier, who then was a Sergeant, raised by his merit from the common rank, and stood forth in his own and their behalf, & unhappily for him demanded their pay, and refused to obey the Command of his superior Officer, and would not march till they had justice done them. The honest Labourer is worthy of his hire. Allegiance to our Country and obedience to those in authority, but the spirit of a man will shrink from his Duty when his Services are not paid and Injustice oppresses him and his Family. For this he fell an unhappy victim to the hard but perhaps necessary Law of his Country. The letter penned by himself the day before he was shot doth not breathe forth a word of complaint against his cruel Sentence, Altho’ he had not received any pay for upwards of fifteen months. He writes to your Humble Petitioner with the spirit of a Christian. This Letter is the last adieu he bid to his now suffering widow, & she wishes it may be read in public Assembly . . . . Your humble Petitioner, distressed with the recollection of the fatal catastrophe . . . humbly request[s] that you will extend your usual Benevolence & Charity to her & her two children, and make her some yearly allowance for their support.
I am, &c
Ann Glover
New Bern, 10th Jan. 1780

It is unclear whether Ann Glover’s petition was granted.

Glover’s petition is included in Walter Clark, ed., The State Records of North Carolina (Goldsboro: Nash Bros. Book and Job Printers, 1898), vol.15, pages 187-88. A somewhat abbreviated version can be found on pages 146-47 of In the Words of Women. An excellent reference is Michael A. Bellesiles, A People’s History of the US Military: Ordinary Soldiers Reflect on Their Experience of War, from the American Revolution to Afghanistan (New York City: The New Press, 2012), pages 19-21.

posted August 15th, 2013 by Janet, CATEGORIES: American soldiers, Military Service


2 comments »
  1. Janet, I believe that Ann’s petition may have been granted. I have located a North Carolina and Tennessee, Early Land Records 1753-1931 State of North Carolina Land grant which was granted to the “Heirs of Samuel Glover a Sergeant in the Contenintal line of said State” dated 1797. I am assuming that this is his family which moved to the Tennessee (Franklin County area).

    Comment by Tammy Glover Ross — August 5, 2018 @ 5:27 pm

  2. Thank you for this information.

    Comment by Janet — August 5, 2018 @ 6:59 pm

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