Col. Edward Buncombe
Edward Buncombe was born in 1742 on the West Indian island of St. Christopher. His father, Thomas Buncombe was a planter of English ancestry and he and his wife Esther had four children, Edward being the second eldest. In his younger years Buncombe was educated in England. When he was twenty-four he married Elizabeth Dawson Taylor and in the following years they had three children: Elizabeth Taylor, Thomas, and Hester. Buncombe’s uncle, Joseph Buncombe, owned land in North Carolina that he left to Edward when he died. In 1768 Buncombe left to take control of this land and he and his family made their permanent home in Tyrell (now Washington) County. He built a house named Buncombe Hall (demolished in 1865) and became noted for his hospitality. He eventually owned four square miles of land and at least on merchant ship named the Buncombe.
A prominent member of the community, Buncombe acted as Justice of the Peace and commander of the local militia regiment. When the Revolutionary War began to threaten Buncombe Hall hosted a meeting between John Harvey, Samuel Johnston, and Buncombe. The three men agreed to call an assembly in defiance of the royal governor. This was the first such illegal assembly in the American colonies. Just before the Revolution itself Elizabeth, his wife, died.
In the early days of September 1775 Buncombe was chosen as colonel of the Tyrell militia, and in April 1776 he was transferred to the 5th Regiment of North Carolina troops in the Continental Line (the regular troops). While there he worked under the command of General Francis Nash. This group wintered Charleston, South Carolina until March 1777 when it went north to join with the troops of General George Washington. Buncombe fought at the battle of Brandywine on September 11th, 1777. Just a month later on October 4th he and his men fought at Germantown. At this battle he was wounded and left for dead.
A former classmate in the British Army recognized him and he was sent to Philadelphia on parole. The British hoped to exchange British prisoners for him, but he died before that was possible. Because Buncombe had paid for many military expenses out of his own money he was unable to afford proper medical care and failed to make a full recovery. In the May of 1778 he fell down the stairs while sleepwalking and reopened his wounds, bleeding to death. He was buried at Christ Church, Philadelphia. His gravestone was unmarked and the records incorrectly recorded that his name was Cornelius Buncombe. In 1791 a county in North Carolina was named Buncombe in his honor.
|"The county of
Buncombe, in Western North Carolina, which was established in 1791, is
named in honor of the patriot whose services have been outlined in this
sketch." (1905. Ashe, Samuel. A Biographical History of North
Carolina. Vol. I. p. 199).
Colonel Edward Buncombe was born in 1742 on the island of St. Christopher (also known as St. Kitt's) in the British West Indies. He was educated in England, and in 1768 he "came to North Carolina to take possession of an estate in the present county of Washington (then a part of Tyrell), which had been bequeathed to him by an uncle. Thereon he built Buncombe Hall, a hospitable mansion, which was standing as late as 1865, but was then demolished." (1905. Ashe, Samuel. A Biographical History of North Carolina. Vol. I. p. 197).
Colonel Buncombe married Elizabeth Dawson on St. Christopher before his move to North Carolina. Mrs. Buncombe died before the Revolutionary War started. They had three children; Elizabeth, Thomas, and Hester. (1905. Ashe, Samuel. A Biographical History of North Carolina. Vol. I. p. 199).
In 1771, Colonel Buncombe became a justice of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions for Tyrell County. He was also named colonel of the county's provincial troops. He held the office of colonel under the Royal Government until the Revolutionary War broke out. (1905. Ashe, Samuel. A Biographical History of North Carolina. Vol. I. p. 197-98).
Colonel Buncombe then joined the colonial militia, where he was "appointed a colonel of that branch of the service on the 9th of September, 1775, by the Provincial Congress at Hillsboro." On April 17, 1776, Colonel Buncombe was transferred from the militia to the Continental Line, or regulars, and served as a colonel in the Fifth North Carolina Regiment. (1905. Ashe, Samuel. A Biographical History of North Carolina. Vol. I. p. 198).
The Fifth North Carolina Regiment left in November of 1776 to join General Washington's troops, but before they reached Washington the troop was ordered to march to St. Augustine instead. However, their orders were changed again, and the regiment stayed near Charleston, South Carolina for the winter of 1776-77. In March of 1777, the regiment was again ordered to join Washington. This time their orders were not changed, and they arrived at Washington's headquarters in Middlebrook, "where they were joyfully greeted by their compatriots with 'a salutation of thirteen cannon, each fired thirteen times.'" (1905. Ashe, Samuel. A Biographical History of North Carolina. Vol. I. p. 198).
On September 11, 1777, Colonel Buncombe's regiment was involved in the Battle of Brandywine. They also fought at the Battle of Germantown shortly afterward on October 4. This battle was Colonel Buncombe's last. "In the course of that action he was shot down and left for dead on the field. Being recognized by a British officer who had been his schoolmate in England, he was removed to Philadelphia (then occupied by the British) and paroled within the city limits. Here his condition began to improve, but owing to a fall while walking in his sleep (he being given to somnambulism), his wound opened afresh and he bled to death. This was in the middle of the month of May, 1778." (1905. Ashe, Samuel. A Biographical History of North Carolina. Vol. I. p. 198).
Ashe, Samuel, ed. Biographical History of North Carolina, Vol. 1. Greensboro, NC: Charles L. Van Noppen, 1905.
Fiske, John, and Wilson, James Grant, editors. Appleton’s Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Volume 1. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1888-1889. Reprint. Detroit: Gale Research, 1968.
Powell, William S., ed. Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, Volume 1. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1979.