Tory Plot to Burn House of William Phips, 1779

The following is from a typed document found at the Virginia Historical Society by the editor of the A Witcher Genealogy website. This document appears to be a typescript copy taken from a handwritten original which might be at the Virginia State Library, since a notation in the upper right reads “State Library Richmond, Va.”

This document is a letter dated 11 June 1779 from James Montgomery to William Preston, who was mentioned in the last post. The letter calls for military assistance to quell Tory activity in the region. Of particular note is an attempt by Tories to burn down the house belonging to William Phips.

A 1779 Montgomery County, Virginia road order refers to James Montgomery, presumably the same one who wrote this letter. (See additional such records here.) He might be the one who is said to have died in 1802 in Wythe County, Virginia.

[In parentheses at upper right, in handwriting:]
“State Library
Richmond, Va.”

(From Auditors Papers, Box 5)

Dear Sir

Thought it my Duty to Inform you what has happened in our Quarter Since the Court Relative to the Tories, on Saturday the Fifth of this Instant in the Night, A party of them came to the house of Wm. Phips And Fired four Guns into his house Two Bullets through his Door, And on hearing some of his people up Stairs, Fired two through the Roof, And Endeavoured to Set the house in [sic; in rather than on] fire, And on the Occasion, had Daniel Atter and one of Nicholas Werlck, & Sons bound over to the Court, Tho I am led to beleive [sic; believe] for Reasons that happened afterwards, Atter was Innocent On Wednesday the Eight Very early in the Morning at James McGavock a Person was discovered, it was Generally Believ,d [sic; perhaps Believ’d in original handwritten text] to be Dunkin Gulllon, About two oclock the same Day his boys Started them from thelr Camp About Four hundred yards from his house where the [sic; they?] had lain over Night, and pend [sic; presumably for “penned”] up his Sheep, and cacth,d [sic; perhaps for “catch’d”] Seven with the Dog, and killed them, and took the Meat of four with them, That same night about eleven of the Clock. two of them was Discover,d [presumably “Discover’d” in the handwritten text] at his house, but get no Damage Done, as he had four Senturles [sic; sentries] planted out, it amounts to a certainty that they Intend to kill James McGavock or burn his houses [sic; houses rather than house]. For the Dog that the [sic; perhaps “he” was intended] catch,d [sic; presumably “catch’d”] his sheep with is seen every Day by some Person or other

I have wrote to Capt. Pearce and Capt. Frances, for Six men Out of Each company, with a small Detachment of of [sic; word repeated] my own to range two or three Days untill I Receive Instructions From You. – I can Assure you Sir that things appears very Alarming, and without Speedy measures ls taken we shall be in a bad situation in this Quarter –

I Am Sir with the Greatest esteem your most hble [i.e. “humble”] Servt [i.e. “servant”] [signed:] James Montgomery
June ye 11th, 1779

(Reverse [in brackets in the original])

On the Publlck Service
Colo. [i.e. Colonel] William Preston


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